A 1990s video and trading card game has been revamped for modern smartphone users, but its use may pose a safety concern.
The overnight sensation Pokemon Go uses cell phone GPS to allow players to find and collect virtual Pokemon characters in their own communities. It is designed to be played on foot, and local law enforcement and auto agencies warn against using the game while behind the wheel.
“Just like texting and driving, it takes the attention away from the actual maneuvering of the vehicle,” said Cpl. Jessica Van with the Gainesville Police Department. “At some part of the game, you’re required to look at the screen to look at the actual Pokemon characters. So you’re focused on the game and not on your surroundings.”
The police department posted an image Tuesday on Facebook telling users, “Arrive Alive. Don’t throw Pokeballs and drive.”
AAA The Auto Club Group also advised drivers to not use the game while behind the wheel.
“Trying to catch a Pokemon while behind the wheel is a major distraction and increases your risk of causing a crash,” said Garrett Townsend, AAA Georgia public affairs director, in a news release. “Put your phone down while driving. Just one quick text or glance to see the next Pokestop could end up costing you or someone else their life.”
According to the release, research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found using social media on a phone or mobile device while driving is only slightly less cognitively challenging than solving a complicated math problem while driving.
“Playing games like ‘Pokemon Go’ while driving is a distraction just like sending or receiving a text while behind the wheel,” said Karen Morgan, public policy manager for AAA. “Texting and driving is a primary offense in Georgia. Penalties and fines are assessed for those that violate this law.”