A new smartphone game has been sweeping the country for the past few weeks. “Pokémon Go,” an update to the popular twenty-year-old franchise, has its players exploring the actual world around them as they try to capture animated monsters. Using a technology called augmented reality, the game alters the screen view seen by players through their smartphone cameras by adding creatures and in-game locations to the real-world images they see on the screen.

The game has broken records for popularity and news coverage, and many have praised it because playing requires that users get off the couch and go outside to progress in-game. However, others have expressed concerns that because players are interacting with reality at the same time that their attention is fixed on the game, playing might put themselves and others at risk. The greatest worry has been that players will use the game while they’re driving and cause crashes.

Distracted Driving Already a Great Concern

We’ve talked about the dangers of distracted driving on our blog before. Distracted driving, which includes any behavior that takes a driver’s attention away from the road, can refer to fiddling with the radio or having a conversation, but it gets more attention today when it involves phone calls, texting, or other mobile device use. At least 10 percent of all fatal crashes and 18 percent of crashes with injuries are caused by distracted driving, and this share has been rising. The National Safety Council thinks these numbers might be underreported by half or more, especially when it comes to device use.

Players Cautioned

Reports of Pokémon-related carelessness appeared around Salt Lake City shortly after the game was released: A man in the middle of the street temporarily disrupted traffic, while a number of vehicles were observed driving erratically. The police were called to investigate numerous incidents of suspicious behavior which turned out to be people playing the game. Fortunately, no serious crashes or injuries have yet happened in Utah, but it’s probably just a matter of time.

Nationwide, there have been several documented reports of car crashes caused by Pokémon players, the most widely covered being a crash into a parked police car in Baltimore that was caught on video. So far, only the drivers have been injured in these accidents, and none seriously, but eventually a serious injury or fatality may happen.

Public officials have repeatedly warned players to play responsibly; one of the sternest warnings came from University of Utah Health Care, which cautioned against self-inflicted injuries due to distraction, as well as the potentially catastrophic risks of playing while driving. “You really don’t want a Pikachu to be the reason you end up in the emergency room,” said their trauma prevention coordinator.

Car Crash Attorneys in Salt Lake City

“Pokémon Go” is new, but the problem of motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers is not. At Craig Swapp & Associates, we have extensive experience helping our clients recover compensation for property damage and physical injuries caused by other drivers who behaved recklessly or negligently. If you need a Pokémon Go car accident lawyer, we encourage you to call us.

We’re following the “Pokémon Go” phenomenon closely, but we recognize that it’s just another page to add to the thick book of automobile accident law. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a crash caused by a driver who was playing this game or who was tied up in some other distraction, give our office a call at 1-800-404-9000 to learn how we can help. We offer a free consultation to all new clients. You can also fill out our online form below or launch the LiveChat feature from any page of this website for quick answers to your questions.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp