Whether you’re an avid gamer or know nothing about video games, you’ve probably heard of the infamous “Pokémon Go” game that is currently sweeping the nation and the world. You’ve almost definitely seen groups of children – and adults, as a matter of fact – wandering around your neighborhood staring at their phones.
What Is Pokémon Go?
Pokémon Go is an “augmented reality” game played with smartphones, where players use their GPS and cameras to wander around their neighborhoods catching “pocket monsters” that appear on their screens as though they are there in real life. The game is monumentally popular and has caused Nintendo stocks to skyrocket, increasing the company’s market value by billions of dollars. There is just one problem… the game easily distracts users from what is going on around them.
Pokémon Go Car Accidents
The first Pokémon Go-related accidents have already started to occur. While there have been many phony reports of players causing multiple car pileups on highways while trying to catch Pikachu (see Cartel Press), genuine reports of car accidents and pedestrian accidents have started to flood in.
USA Today and Fox 11 LA, as well as The Smoking Gun, reported that a 28-year-old man in Auburn, NY crashed his younger brother’s car into a tree on July 13, 2016 after getting an alert that there was a “special” Pokémon nearby. He allegedly looked at his phone, veered off the road, and crashed into a tree. Reports say that the engine entered the passenger area. He’s lucky to have escaped the mangled mass of metal with nothing but some cuts on his legs.
Texas A&M Police tweeted an accident where a motorist crashed into the back of an illegally parked car that had been exited by someone who left it to catch a Pokémon.
7/11-Traffic accident: Illegally parked car struck from behind (*Airbags deployed in 2nd car). 1st driver had exited to catch a Pokémon.— Texas A&M Police (@TAMUPolice) July 13, 2016
Pedestrians Injured While Playing Pokémon Go
The New York Daily News reported on a story of a 15-year-old Pennsylvania girl who was hit by a car while legally crossing a large and busy highway after catching a Pokémon nearby. The girl’s mother blames the game – not because her daughter was playing it while crossing the highway, but because the game leads (or as the mother said, “drags”) children across highways that they should never attempt to cross in the first place.
Fox News and NBC 7 San Diego reported two men who fell off a 90-foot ocean bluff in the San Diego, CA area on July 13 (as reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune). One Reddit user admits to falling down a ditch while playing the game, resulting in a broken foot.
Other reports include instances of trespassing on private property by players who could care less about fences and walls when there’s a Pokémon on the other side. Police are spending valuable time responding to reports of kids hopping fences into people’s backyards, all in the name of catching virtual monsters.
Is it Safe to Play Pokémon Go?
This is the question that so many people have been asking. When players open the game on their phone, they are issued a warning to stay aware of their surroundings while playing the game; but the truth is that many people allow themselves to become too distracted by the game. Those who remain aware of their surroundings, follow the law, and use their common sense while playing Pokémon Go are generally safe. Those who don't do so place themselves – and others – in danger.