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Pokémon GO Takes Distracted Driving Accidents to New, Absurd Level

Over the last decade, smartphone usage has caused a rise in distracted driver accidents nationwide, especially among teen drivers.  Now, the new game app Pokémon GO is causing a dangerous spike in tragic — and entirely preventable — accidents. In Auburn, New York, a 28-year-old male driver was playing the game when he veered off the road into a tree, sustaining minor injuries to his legs. Fortunately, there was no passenger in the front seat; if there had been, that person would have sustained crushing injuries.

The game requires players to use GPS to pursue and apprehend virtual creatures. But gamers who are too engaged in play are injuring themselves by the scores as they carelessly drive, cycle or walk into traffic. A 15-year-old girl in Tarentum, Pennsylvania, was struck by a car while crossing a highway intersection around five o’clock in the evening. She sustained several cuts and bruises as well as injuries to her collarbone and foot. The girl and her mother both blamed the game.

In Baltimore, Maryland, at around 3:30 a.m. on July 18, a young male driver of a Toyota RAV4 crashed into the side of a parked police patrol car. The accident was caught on video by an officer’s body cam and posted online as a warning to other drivers.

Japan, the country of Pokémon’s origin, has not been immune from this trouble. In Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, a 21-year-old driver plowed into a line of cars waiting for a red light. He told police he didn’t notice the car in front of him because he was playing Pokémon GO. A 20-year-old female driver also struck a stopped car at a red light because she was distracted by the game. There are stiff penalties for cellphone use while driving in Japan: the fine is ¥5,000 for motorbikes, ¥6,000 for standard vehicles and ¥7,000 for large vehicles. However, these penalties have not been a sufficient deterrent for many drivers.

Our auto accident attorneys want you to be safe on the road. Please use your cellphone responsibly.  If you are injured by a distracted driver, contact Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia for a free consultation.