You’ve no doubt heard of Pokémon Go, Niantic’s augmented reality game that enables users to walk around catching rare “Pocket Monsters.” Since its release on July 6, the game has branched out to 26 countries and claimed the title of biggest mobile game in US history. You’ve probably encountered Pokémon Go players in Colorado—odds are, you’re one yourself. The game attracts 21 million users each day, 61 percent of which are located in the US. With all the global popularity, it’s natural to be unaware any safety concerns.
Pokémon Go turns your daily walk to the bus stop into an opportunity to catch a Pikachu, but because the game requires staring at your phone while walking, it can pose a problem. In fact, it’s led to a number of injuries across the US, despite the warning in the loading screen of the app itself: “Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings.” If you’re thinking about getting out and catching ‘em all today, here are four tips for safe play.
- Don’t play while driving. This may seem like a no-brainer, but distracted driving has proved to be a significant problem. A man in Melbourne, Australia crashed into a school while driving and playing the game, and another driver slammed into a Baltimore cop car. Concerns have even caused multiple cities to warn users, “don’t Pokémon and drive.” So when it comes to catching Pokémon on the road—just don’t do it. Wait till the car is parked and then hunt away.
- Watch where you’re going. This applies to pedestrians and drivers. If you’re a pedestrian, make sure you look up from your smartphone while walking—and especially before crossing the street. A teenager suffered minor injuries after crossing a busy roadway and being hit by a car in Pittsburgh after catching a Pokémon. It’s important to watch where you’re going if you’re walking around and playing the game, but if you’re driving, make sure you watch out for pedestrians glued to their phone screens.
- Travel in groups. Users play the game at all times of the day, but it can be especially dangerous at night when drivers aren’t expecting to see pedestrians. Recently, a young woman in Melbourne, Australia was the victim of a fatal hit and run while playing the game alone late at night. Walking alone at night is so dangerous if you’re distracted by an app. If you’re planning on playing the game in less-populated areas, bring a friend or a group of friends with you and consider wearing reflective clothing to improve visibility.
- Avoid suspicious locations. Remember that the game revolves around user interaction, meaning you’ll most likely encounter others while hunting for Pokémon. It can be tempting to go wherever the Jigglypuffs are, but it’s not worth risking your life. Criminals can take advantage of the app’s GPS functions, especially with PokéStops. Police are investigating a string of robberies in Missouri in which Pokémon Go users were lured to a secluded location and robbed at gunpoint. Don’t go anywhere you normally wouldn’t, avoid strangers if you’re playing the game alone, and keep on the beaten path.
Next time you leave your house to play Pokémon Go, take your safety into consideration—the game alerts you to nearby Pokemon, but not to nearby cars or armed robbers. The key to happy gaming is staying alert and using common sense. Reality may be augmented in the app, but you’re still playing in real life.
If you’ve experienced any Pokémon Go-related accidents, contact a knowledgeable Colorado personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve.