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Pokémon Go and Distracted Driving

Within just one week of its release, Pokémon Go has attracted the attention of smartphone users, news outlets and police departments nationwide - and not all the attention is positive.


As of July 13, an estimated 15 million users had downloaded this augmented reality game. The app uses a geolocation feature that encourages players to walk around and explore new areas to capture the popular 90s Pokémon characters.

You may want to applaud the creators of this interactive app for ungluing people from their couches and encouraging exercise, but you might reconsider when you hear about the safety hazards.

Although the login screen warns users to stay aware of their surroundings, few appear to heed that warning. While tossing Pokéballs and visiting Pokéstops, users are simultaneously walking, biking or skateboarding. At a basic level, the quest to "catch 'em all" has led to hazards like tripping, falling, and twisting ankles. Players are less alert than they would normally be, and even risk stepping into traffic. 

However, more serious, life-threatening accidents can occur when users play the game while driving. All distractions, not only texting while driving, endanger the lives of drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

Distracted driving includes any activity that diverts someone's attention away from the primary task of driving. Statistics show that 10 percent of all distracted driving crashes involve drivers under the age of 20. This percentage is sure to increase, as th

e Pokémon Go app specifically targets the millennial generation 

- the youngest and most inexperienced drivers on the road.

If you have caught the Pokémon Go fever, please be cautious and considerate of others around you. If you absolutely have to catch the Rattata lounging in the middle of Fayetteville Street, look around first. Don't walk into the street. Step to the side so other pedestrians can pass.

And to Pokémon-obsessed drivers, give your phone to a passenger to catch those highway Pokémon. Don't let the Pokémon craze endanger your life or others'.


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