No doubt you’ve spotted social media and news mentions of Pokémon Go, a wildly popular location-based, augmented reality mobile game that has players searching for and capturing virtual characters everywhere. These characters appear throughout the real world via GPS and cameras on compatible devices. But the fun has quickly turned to danger in multiple cases, prompting law enforcement and safety officials to issue warnings to both game players and anyone nearby.
Released just this month, Pokémon Go quickly became one of the most downloaded smartphone apps ever, racking up 21 million players within days and proving a stock value boon to Nintendo, which owns part of The Pokémon Company.
Some reports of Pokémon Go-related incidents have been proven hoaxes. The most egregious, perhaps, is the story of the fictional Lamar Hickson parking his car in the middle of a major highway to “catch a Pikachu” and causing a multi-vehicle crash. Pablo Reyes, founder of pseudo-news websites Huzlers and Cartel Press, admitted the story and several others that have since gone viral were made up.
But others are true. Police in St. Louis, Missouri confirmed that four armed suspects recently were caught targeting game players whose distraction made them highly vulnerable targets. Dozens have reported injuring themselves or others by tripping, falling and running into people or objects while playing the game. And, most troubling, many say they’ve witnessed people playing while driving – a definite threat to the safety of anyone on the roadways.
“Not even 30 minutes after the release last night, I slipped and fell down a ditch,” one Reddit user posted. “Fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot, 6-8 weeks for recovery. I told all the doctors I was walking my dog lol… Watch where you’re going, folks!”
If you or your children play Pokémon Go or any other mobile game, it’s critical to know the dangers of distraction. Be aware of your surroundings, watch where you’re going and, by all means, turn games off while driving. In any case, when in public be wary of others distracted by their mobile devices, particularly on the roadways. If you or your children suffer an injury caused by someone else’s distracted driving or other dangerous behavior, get medical treatment and call 800-251-1111 to speak with a personal injury attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.