What do drivers and pedestrians need to know about Pokemon Go?

The popular app Pokemon Go is getting people out of the house and exercising. However, distraction may be a dangerous issue involving the game.

The latest gaming craze among kids and adults alike, Pokemon Go, has millions of people across the country getting off the couch and out in the fresh air. After downloading the smartphone app, many people in Chicago and elsewhere have walked miles in search of the virtual monsters. The app has been applauded for inspiring people to get outside and move, but is also a source of concern when it comes to dangerous distractions. If fans of the game are not careful how they play or use the app incorrectly, it can lead to injuries, including those caused by distracted driving.

According to Distraction.gov, more than 431,000 people across the country were injured in 2014, and 3,179 were killed, in distraction-related car crashes. Teenagers, who make up a large portion of drivers using cellphones and smartphone apps, are the most likely to get into a distracted driving accident, compared with other age groups. It may seem obvious to point out that users should not play Pokemon Go while behind the wheel, but since many people already engage in texting and other activities on their mobile phones while driving, it comes as no surprise that numerous drivers also play phone games behind the wheel.

Representatives from AAA are already cautioning players to refrain from opening the app while driving. In addition, drivers should always be aware of distracted pedestrians who might wander into the road or cross the street at an unsafe time while their attention is focused on their screens.

The dangers of distraction

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identify three main types of distraction that are particularly dangerous behind the wheel. These include visual, manual and cognitive distraction. Respectively, these distractions take a driver's eyes, hands, feet or mind off the task of driving. Using a smartphone while driving is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction.

USA Today reported on one accident that has already occurred involving Pokemon Go. A man in New York crashed his car into a tree while playing the game. Fortunately, he was not seriously injured, and nobody else was involved in the crash. However, it is easy to imagine accidents that may be much more serious in regards to playing the game. The following tips are recommended for those playing Pokemon Go or any smartphone game:

  • Never play the app while driving.
  • Play the game with a friend or in a group, and avoid locations that are not well-lit.
  • Do not trespass onto private property.
  • When walking, be aware of nearby vehicles and obstacles, and obey traffic rules while crossing the street.

When played safely, Pokemon Go and other apps that encourage exercise can be a fun way to get out and enjoy the fresh air. The key is in avoiding distraction, whether you are a pedestrian or a driver. If you are injured by a negligent driver, you may find it helpful to speak with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney to discuss possible compensation.