“Pokémon Go” Leading to Pokémon Oh Nos


It’s only been out for a month, but the new augmented reality game “Pokémon Go” has been a smash hit. It broke records for smartphone apps, seeing more than 75 million downloads in the first few weeks, and it’s already estimated to have more than 20 million daily users in the United States alone. The latest installment of the popular twenty-year-old Pokémon video and card game franchise, the app has been applauded for the way it gets players out into the world. By cleverly overlaying game locations and characters onto a real-world map and requiring players to visit or find them to advance in the game, Niantic, the game’s designer, seems to have come up with a winner.

However, because of the way the game mixes the real world with its virtual one, many people worry that “Pokémon Go” poses a risk to its players and others. Players might not watch where they’re going: They might walk into objects or other people, step into the street without looking, or trespass and find themselves reported to police. The greatest fear has been that some might play while driving, leading to distracted driving crashes.

Unfortunately, that’s already happened.

Gotta Crash ‘em All?

We’re watching these developments very carefully. The first documented “Pokémon Go” car crash took place less than a week after the game was released, when an upstate New York man crashed into a tree (he was not seriously injured). Two separate crashes in Wisconsin (also into trees) followed, as well as one in Vermont. In each of those crashes, no other cars were involved (and all of the drivers were also suspected of drunk driving).

When a Washington State man rear-ended another car, it became the first confirmed case of a Pokémon player crashing into another vehicle. No one was injured in that crash either, but a near-miss caught on video in Baltimore highlighted just how dangerous playing while behind the wheel can be: That driver struck a parked police car while driving and simultaneously playing the game.

Distracted Driving Kills

Most players will play safely, but the dangers of injury and law-breaking will continue to be real. Here in California, two men fell off a cliff near San Diego; their injuries were not life threatening. Numerous reports of players becoming the victims of crime have also been in the news.

We’re most concerned about the distracted driving aspect. Distracted driving is already a huge problem on our roads, leading to crashes that were estimated to have injured more than 430,000 and killed over 3,100 in 2014. Cell phones and other mobile devices are blamed for a large and growing share of these types of incidents. If this was already the state of driving safety, what will the addition of an app like “Pokémon Go” mean?

Distracted Driving Lawyer in California

It can happen anywhere, and it can happen to you. At least one crash is believed to have been caused by a Pokémon-playing driver here in our region. Last week, a teen temporarily blacked out part of Napa when she crashed into a power pole.

At the Law Offices of J. Chrisp, we understand the practice of automobile accident law. If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by another driver, whether distracted driving or some other cause was behind it, we can help you reach the settlement you’re entitled to. Give us a call at (707) 549-8166 or complete the form below to set up a free consultation. The meeting is free, but its value in helping you get your life back on track might just be priceless.