Pokemon GO seems to have invaded almost every aspect of trainers’ day-to-day lives. Whether gamers are out exercising or simply walking to school, Pokemon trainers are finding themselves on a quest to catch ‘em all - even when they shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, many drivers are now playing Pokemon GO behind the wheel, leaving unassuming pedestrians exposed to a threat even greater than Team Rocket. And, now, it seems like California is looking to ensure its streets stay clear of these distracted Pokemon GO players.
On Tuesday, California’s Assembly sent Governor Jerry Brown a proposed measure that would essentially ban people from playing Pokemon GO whilst driving. The new motion expands the state’s current laws which already prohibit drivers from texting behind the wheel. Citing technology’s continual progress, lawmakers want this measure to more broadly prohibit anyone from using handheld devices in anyway that would distract them from driving.
Tom Lackey, one of the assembly’s members, said, “This bill will prevent tragedy.” And, sadly, it seems as if he’s right. Pokemon GO has already caused several major traffic accidents and is now associated with two recent vehicular deaths.
Recently, Japan Times reported a young woman was killed after a driver struck them while she was riding her bicycle. The suspect told investigator he was attempting to charge his phone when the accident occurred since he’d been playing Pokemon GO. And, not long before this incident, a driver struck two women as they crossed a street in the city of Tokushima while playing the game. One of the women died as a result while the other suffered critical injuries.
These Pokemon GO-related accidents aren’t just centered in Japan. The wildly popular game has been connected to traffic violations all over the world. In America, a New York resident slammed his car into a tree while playing the game and a teenage girl in Pennsylvania was hit by a car when she wandered onto a busy highway while playing Pokemon GO. And, in Baltimore, a police car's camera filmed a driver as he ran his vehicle into the the cruiser. Unsurprisingly, he was admitted he was playing the game at the time of the crash. The app has always warned players to be aware of their surroundings, but its latest updates have added specific pop-ups which tell trainers to keep Pokemon GO away from the driver’s seat.
So, as future Pokemon Masters, let's not forget to train responsibly. No pocket monster is worth someone losing their lives over.