According to “USA Today,” on Monday, July 18, 2016, a distracted driver in Baltimore, Md. crashed into a parked police car while using the PokéMon Go application. A body camera captured the event that showed several officers standing next a squad vehicle when a Toyota Rav 4 crashed into the car and continued to drive down the street. The driver immediately exited the vehicle when he reached the end of the street and told the officers, “this is what I get for playing that dumb game.”
The booming popularity of the game seems almost incredulous but the application has now reported over 15 million users. CNET reported that PokéMon Go’s main defining characteristic is the reality end users are unaware of the location of the PokéMon characters. PokéMon Go provides an imprecise radar with a map for users to capture the hidden figures.
What has made this application so dangerous, is how end users utilize their mobile devices to project the characters in the physical setting they are in. Luckily, no one was injured during the incident when the distracted driver crashed into the parked police car in Baltimore. In reality, this incident could have been even more serious.
There have been other incidents involving people distracted by PokéMon Go. On July 9, two PokéMon Go enthusiasts in California were in their vehicle when it fell off of an ocean-side bluff. The two players needed to be rescued and were treated at a local hospital.
Additionally, a police department in New Hampshire used the popularity of the game as an opportunity to send out a general invitation to criminals on their most wanted list to visit the station in order to find a rare PokéMon character. Some may argue this could be entrapment, but it is not since the players would be entering the police station by their own free will.
Some users are so obsessed with finding as many characters as possible that they are willing to hack into the system to make the radar on the map more precise. Ars Technica explained that on Saturday, July 16, Ahmed Almutawd was the first person to post a PokéMon Go mapper. It has been discussed the idea of a precise radar for the map would affect the overall experience of the application. It has been suggested the exact location detector would interrupt the wandering nature of the game.
Furthermore, it is believed it would take away from the excitement of stumbling upon a PokéMon character instead of knowing exactly where to look. Additionally, it has been noted if end users are aware of the location it would also end the communication between different users. This may stop people from helping each other find as many nearby PokéMon Go characters as possible.
Almutawd stated he is not worried about the tool damaging the overall experience of the game. It could be argued that his tool could minimize the amount of distraction for the users because they can reach the address safely and then begin the search for the character once they arrive at the address. The problem is the application is just as dangerous for pedestrians as it is for distracted drivers.
These incidents are examples the demonstrate that users have not heeded the warning of the application. The application warns users to “stay alert at all times” and “stay aware of their surroundings.” These statements protect PokéMon Go and Nintendo from any liability suits related to accidents or injuries that could occur while users are distracted. Fortunately, there were no injuries when the distracted PokéMon Go driver crashed into the police car in Baltimore, however, others have been less lucky. PokéMon Go players area advised to pay attention while using the application to make sure there are no more accidents by distracted users because the next people may not be as lucky.
By Kristina Lasher
Edited by Cathy Milne
USA Today: Driver slams into Baltimore cop car while playing Pokemon Go
ars TECHNICA: How hackers are revealing the hidden Pokemon Go monsters all around you
CNET: Pokemon Go player crashes into cop car, gets caught on body camera
Image Courtesy of Topher McCulloch’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License