The new “Pokémon Go” augmented reality game was an instant hit. Within days it had been downloaded and was being played by millions of users in the first wave of countries where it was released. The success catapulted the stock of its maker, Nintendo, up sharply and the game became a top news story almost everywhere.
But almost immediately there were also worries about people walking into traffic while playing the game or—even worse—playing while driving and causing car crashes. A report began circulating within just three or four days that a major traffic crash had happened right here in Massachusetts because of a careless “Pokémon Go” player.
That story proved to be a hoax and was debunked quickly (the photo that accompanied it doesn’t look like any Bay State highway, and the snow on the side of the road in July should have given it away to alert readers). But considering the inattentiveness people have been known to show while using their mobile devices, it was only a matter of time before real cases of crashes and injuries caused by those engrossed in the game began to happen.
The first documented car crash might be one from Auburn, New York, on July 12, in which a driver crashed into tree, injuring only himself. That incident was followed by a pair of crashes in Wisconsin. Both of those drivers also crashed into trees (and both were also cited for drunk driving, indicating perhaps that there are additional issues of bad judgment involved). Those drivers suffered minor injuries, and no other vehicles or pedestrians were involved.
Meanwhile, a driver in Fall City, Washington, admitted to police that he had been playing the game when he rear-ended another vehicle on July 18. Both cars needed to be towed, but fortunately, no one was injured. In perhaps the most dramatic crash yet reported, a “Pokémon Go”-playing driver actually crashed into a parked police car at high speed in Baltimore, and the collision was caught on an officer’s body camera. The driver immediately admitted he’d been playing the game.
Even drivers who stay smart and don’t play the game can be affected by it. A Pennsylvania teenager was struck and injured by a car when she crossed and re-crossed a busy four-lane road to catch one of the game’s digital creatures.
“Pokémon Go” has been an amazing success on some levels, including seeing a record 30 million downloads in its first two weeks. We all hope, however, that its users make an effort to play the game responsibly, and that they keep their own safety and that of others in mind. Risking injury and death over a digital image doesn’t seem like a wise decision.
We cannot stress enough that distracted driving is dangerous to everyone on the road. It leads to many thousands of injuries and is the known or probable cause in several thousand traffic fatalities every year. “Pokémon Go” is not unique, as drivers have been using cell phones and mobile devices irresponsibly for years. It’s not even the first app to be blamed directly for causing trouble; the Snapchat speed filter, for instance, has been documented as the cause behind several tragic crashes.
If you or someone close to you has been the victim of a crash involving a distracted driver, talk to a firm with the right kind of experience. Joel H. Schwartz, PC understands the issues in car crashes caused by distracted drivers. Give us a call today at 1-800-660-2270 or fill out the form at the bottom of this page for a free consultation to discuss your case.