Pokemon Go, a new mobile game, is getting people out of the house and onto the streets as they compete to collect the most characters. But the game has already seen more than its share of injuries as a result of distracted walking.
Pokemon Go is an “augmented reality” video game available for most smartphones. The game is on a 1990s Japanese cartoon, and developed by Nintendo for Apple and Android phones. It allows gamers to use their mobile phones to search for and capture virtual “Pokemon” in real-life locations.
For example, if the app is running while a person is walking through a downtown area, he or she may be alerted to Pokemon in store fronts, cafes, or even there on the sidewalk. The goal is to collect the characters and use them to fight players on the other team.
The game is wildly popular. Released on Wednesday, July 6, the game already has more downloads than Tinder and as many users as Twitter. It has also been lauded for getting users to exercise.
Pokemon Go Leads to Distracted Walking, Biking, Driving
But in the drive to “catch them all” Pokemon Go users may be putting themselves at risk. Many users have already reported minor injuries resulting from distracted walking or biking. And while reports of a major highway pile-up were false, at least one person has reported getting into a car accident while trying to catch a Pokemon character.
Using any smartphone app – including texting, GPS, and now Pokemon Go – is distracting. It takes your mind off of your surroundings and puts you at greater risk for an accident.
“When you’re involved in a game and not paying attention to what’s going on around you, your situational awareness can go down,” Greensboro, N.C., police officer Ben Wingfield told local television (via Forbes).
Users report tripping, scraping their palms and knees, and injuring themselves because they were distracted.
“I catch myself almost walking into things, so I’ve kind of started playing a little bit less in the street,” said Henry Mendez, 32, a parking valet from Los Angeles.
Even Nintendo, the game’s creator has come out warning users to be safe while playing.
“We encourage all people playing Pokemon Go to be aware of their surroundings and to play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places,” Pokemon Company International and Niantic said in an emailed statement.
Pedestrian accidents caused by distracted walking are a growing problem. While no one has been seriously hurt yet while playing Pokemon Go, it is only a matter of time before some careless user gets hit, or even killed. If you, or your children, are using the app, be careful. It only takes one wrong step for you to lose more than just the game.
David Christensen is a pedestrian accident attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He helps the victims of distracted driving accidents recover damages from insurance companies and at-fault drivers. If you have been seriously injured in an auto accident, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.