Today in Australia, a 19-year-old playing Pokémon Go while driving lost control of his vehicle, smashed through a fence and crashed into a Melbourne school. No one was injured, but police say he will be charged with careless driving.
A number of car crashes have occurred over the past few weeks because of distracted drivers playing Pokémon Go. In New York, a driver playing the mobile game ran off the road and crashed his car into a tree. In another incident that occurred in Canada, a driver and passenger playing the game reversed suddenly in a parking lot and crashed into a police cruiser. Two officers were taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries.
It won’t be long before the first Pokémon Go related auto-fatality occurs because a distracted driver playing the game runs over someone or an inattentive pedestrian or cyclist roams into traffic.
Pokémon Go has become a global phenomenon since it launched earlier this month. In the game, players use their smartphone’s GPS and camera functionality to find and capture virtual monsters that appear as they explore their surroundings. It has topped more than 75 million downloads worldwide.
AAA is urging drivers not to play Pokémon Go behind the wheel. “Driving requires your full attention, and putting away your phone until you reach your destination could save your life,” said Jake Nelson, AAA Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy & Research.
Law enforcement agencies are also warning Pokémon Go players to remain cautious and not become distracted while playing the game. The chief of police in Auburn, New York, where a driver playing the game crashed into a tree, issued these public-safety tips:
- Do not use the application when you are operating a motor vehicle or bicycle.
- Do not trespass on private property when trying to catch a Pokémon.
- Be aware of your surroundings when walking and do not stare down at your phone not knowing hazards around you, like roadways, drop-offs, waterways, etc.
- Use caution when sharing your location as strangers can see your location information.
- Travel in groups in public/well-lit locations.
Photo of a Pokémon Gym at Zion National Park by Tydence Davis/Flickr.