On Monday, while walking my dog, I saw a car load of four young men looking at their phones obviously playing Pokémon Go in the park. The car was moving slowly with warning lights flashing. They weren’t the only players who attempted to speed up their game play while driving because one player in Auburn, New York crashed into a a tree. I’ve also seen people bicycling on the sidewalk looking for Pokéman prizes.
It would seem obvious that the developer should disable the game on smartphones when is going faster than a few miles per hour. Smartphones have acclerometesr and gyroscopes that can show how fast the phone is moving. In fact, the Waze navigation shows the speed of cars vs the speed limit.
The game is supposed to get people out walking not get them injured or killed.
Auburn New York police reported that July 12, 2016 at approximately 10:44pm the Auburn, New York Police Department responded to a motor vehicle accident in the area of 144 Owasco Street involving injury to the driver who crashed his vehicle into a tree.
The driver admitted to actively playing the “Pokémon Go” game while driving causing him to become distracted and run off the roadway into a tree. The driver, Steven Cary, broke his ankle and had cuts on his legs.
Fortunately, the driver was not seriously injured but this is an example of how easily accidents can occur when someone is engaged in the game and not paying attention. The accident investigation is on-going.
Pokemon Go players are Tweeting about their wins maybe while driving:
Almost got into a car crash playing Pokemon go… But I caught the Pokemon so it ok👍🏽
— Alex Kurbyun (@AskurbyunK) July 8, 2016
Just saw 2 kids playing #PokemonGO on their bikes crash into each other. I’m a huge fan of the game but not gonna lie, it didn’t look good.
— Erin DeBooy (@erindebooy) July 14, 2016
My brother just got in car crash because he was playing PokemonGo…no one was hurt but the Squirtle got away
— Jorden Christensen (@jordenchristen) July 10, 2016
While there are suggestions that players get rewarded for not Pokémoning while driving, it would be far safer and more ethical to not allow use at fast speeds, ever. Since many of the players are very young, it is better not to tempt them. The app warns of use while driving while users can gain more points by cruising in cars looking for Pokémon. There has even been craiglists ads with new “Uber-like” services to driver players around looking for Pokéman.
The Auburn Police issued the following advisory:
With the sudden popularity of the recently released mobile phone application/game called “Pokemon Go” the Auburn Police Department would like to remind the public, using common sense when playing the game should be paramount above everything else.
Those playing the game need to remember the following:
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 Pokemon.
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.
The other problem is that while playing, kids are not playing attention in streets. Autumn Diesroth, 15-year-old girl from Pennsylvania was hit by car while playing Pokémon Go. Diesroth was covered in scrapes, bruises, and injuries to her collarbone and foot. She remains in the hospital.