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Pokemon Go Creates Another Distracted Driving Hazard

Posted On July 07, 2016

Pokemon Go is creating a serious distracted driving hazard in the U.S. Law enforcement agencies around the country are warning drivers not to use Pokemon Go while driving. In big cities like Chicago with heavy traffic, a Chicago personal injury attorney sees many distracted driving accidents that injure motorists, as well as pedestrians.

What is Pokemon Go?

Pokemon Go has become the latest rage with young adults in America. It’s an insanely popular smartphone game that’s a favorite with people under 30. According to reports, 58 percent of Pokemon Go players range from 18 to 24 years of age, while another 38 percent is made up players from 25 to 30. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, these are the age groups that are most likely to die in a distracted driving auto accident.

Pokemon was initially launched as a video game in the 1990s for laptop computers, but its popularity grew to new heights in July when Nintendo and Niantic re-introduced it for smartphones as Pokémon Go. As a virtual-reality treasure hunt, the app is tied to downloaded maps that put little creatures in real-world locations. Players track them through cities, neighborhoods, parks, malls and familiar landmarks to capture them.
Like texting and talking on a cell phone while driving, Pokemon Go takes the driver’s focus and attention off the road and puts in on the phone. This is definitely dangerous and potentially lethal to a driver behind the wheel. So far, the immensely popular game has contributed to numerous auto accidents around the country and prompted law enforcement and safety officials to issue warnings to drivers. In Chicago, serious injuries and fatalities caused by distracted drivers are commonly seen by a Chicago personal injury attorney.

Pokemon Go Accidents

  • On July 12, the first Pokemon Go crash was seen in Auburn, New York when a man crashed into a tree while playing the game. He suffered a broken ankle and cuts to both legs. According to officials at the scene, the impact of the crash nearly sent the car’s engine into the passenger compartment.
  • On July 15, a Pokémon Go player’s car hit a Rehoboth Beach police vehicle in Delaware. After the incident, the local Delaware Police Department posted a Facebook page notice to motorists to “avoid Pokémon Go when driving, as the police department only has so many police cars.”
  • On July 20, a Pokemon Go player slammed into a Baltimore Police car while he was distracted with the game. Fortunately, the driver was not injured, but the incident was captured on police cameras.

In addition to increasing distracted driving accidents, Pokemon Go is causing numerous pedestrian injuries seen by a Chicago personal injury attorney, as well as personal injuries related to robberies and car thefts in various cities around the country. However, the game has also done some good. Early last week four Pokemon Go players saved the lives of two people who had passed out in a moving car.

What is the Solution?

Local law enforcement agencies and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are promoting safe driving by asking drivers to avoid Pokemon Go while driving. AAA is urging drivers not to use Pokemon Go behind the wheel because it could lead to potentially deadly consequences. The AAA Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research, Jake Nelson, is urging drivers to avoid all distractions while behind the wheel of a car. According to NHTSA statistics, distracted driving causes at least 3,000 deaths per year. Distracted driving studies show:

  • When a driver takes his/her eyes off the road for more than two seconds, it doubles the risk of a car crash.
  • When a driver takes his/her eyes off the road for five seconds while driving 55 miles per hour, it’s quivalent to driving the length of a football field with a blindfold on.
  • Distraction is a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen-driver car crashes.

Safety officials emphasize that driving requires a person’s undivided attention, and that staying off the phone while driving can save lives. Safety awareness is also promoted to pedestrians who are playing Pokemon Go while walking through congested areas or crossing a street at a busy intersection. A Chicago personal injury attorney is aware of how quickly injuries can occur in heavily populated areas of Chicago and other large cities.

Most states have laws against distracted driving and reckless driving. With the increasing number of car crashes and serious accidents occurring from Pokemon Go, it’s possible that drivers playing Pokemon Go could face jail time and fines. Every state, including Illinois, is concerned about the distracted driving hazards that Pokemon Go has created, but the app is so new there are no laws yet in place to deal with the immediate problems.

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