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Pokémon GO: the dangers of playing while driving

12 August 2016

Since launching in the US on 6 July, Pokémon Go has broken almost every record for a mobile application in its short history. Unfortunately, due to irresponsible users, it happens to have broken a few valuable possessions too, resulting in a number of people needing emergency roadside assistance.

The most downloaded application on Google’s Play network in its first week, with twice as many users as Tinder, and more active daily users than Twitter, the statistics are incredibly impressive for an application that is still in the process of being rolled out internationally.

Pokémon Go makes use of your phone’s satellite GPS system and built-in clock to estimate your location. The server will then randomly spawn Pokémon within your range at any given moment.

Along with your phone’s camera, the mobile application creates an augmented reality of the Pokémon with which you can interact by catching them, taking pictures or battling other players. Players become immersed in a blend of fantasy and reality with the virtual realm crossing the line into the actual world. Unfortunately, this means that emergency car towing services could potentially be busier than usual with certain Pokémon enthusiasts attempting to ‘catch Pokémon’ while driving.

The dangers of playing Pokémon Go while you are driving

In response to possible distracted driving as a result of playing the game, the AA issued a statement saying: “Reports are already coming in from other countries where people have been involved in crashes, as Pokémon Go players have not been focusing on the road. There are also reports of road rage incidents involving this game. While we are not calling for anyone to not play the game, we want to urge anyone who is, to play responsibly, and be alert to the roads they are travelling on, whether by car, motorbike or on foot.”

Below is video evidence of the dangers that can result when playing this game irresponsibly. Learn from the mistakes of others if you wish to avoid the need for an emergency breakdown service:

Video credit: PoliceActivity (YouTube)

The AA said that people distracted while driving (or walking), while on their mobile phones, remains a serious problem in South Africa, with too many people using their mobile devices while they should be concentrating on the core activity they are involved in.

“This is especially true for people who are walking. Statistics from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) show that up to 35 percent of all deaths on our roads are pedestrians. This is extremely worrying, and people who aren’t paying attention while walking and playing Pokémon Go are at risk of being part of this statistic,” the AA warned.

The AA offers the following safety suggestions to Pokémon Go enthusiasts:
Don’t play while driving, or while walking near traffic
Pay attention, and be vigilant, when you are playing. Distraction can cause injuries (even death), especially if you walk in traffic
If possible, take someone with you when you are playing as a second pair of eyes to watch out for possible dangers
Avoid playing Pokémon Go while boarding or alighting buses, trains or taxis; focus on the road and traffic and get to a safe place before playing

“We urge everyone to enjoy this, or any other gaming experience, but not to sacrifice their, or anyone else’s real life to catch a virtual character.” the AA concluded.

Source: Automobile Association