Unless you’ve been in a cave for the last six months, you’ve probably seen lots of people on the sidewalks, streets and in the parks in your town, walking around in a semi-daze, staring at their mobile devices. Chances are they are playing Pokemon Go, the wildly popular “augmented reality” game where players use the phone’s GPS to locate and “capture” different Pokemon creatures, such as Pikachus, Bulbasaurs and Charmanders. It’s all harmless fun, right? Not necessarily.
Within an hour of the game’s release in June, a Washington, DC, hospital treated a man who broke his foot when he fell into a ditch. What was he doing? Playing Pokemon Go! A Long Island man ended up in the emergency room when he fell from his skateboard while trying to catch a Pokemon. Though neither boys were hurt, two teenagers in Florida were shot at by a resident who thought they were burglars.
Amazingly, it seems that many people are playing the game while behind the wheel of a car. A motorist in Baltimore lost control of his car and careened off a police car. Another driver in Massachusetts caused a multi-car pileup and an Auburn, New York motorist slammed into a tree. All admitted to playing Pokemon when the accident occurred.
Niantic, the maker of Pokemon Go, has publicly asked individuals not to play the game while driving and has issued an updated version of the game, which requires a person to tap an icon that says “I’m a passenger” when traveling at high speeds. Niantic officials admit, though, that it’s purely on the honor system—there’s nothing to prevent a driver from representing himself as a passenger.
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