Pokemon Go: Don’t Catch A Car Accident
Yesterday I was talking on the phone with my daughter who was in New York City for the weekend visiting a friend. She called because she had a few hours of alone time and decided to walk around Central Park because it was a beautiful day. While we were talking, she was watching people throughout the park playing a new game called Pokemon Go. This is a mobile game or mobile app played on your cell phone where players use their geolocation to find and catch little monsters. A lot of attention is required of the player to get the most immersive gameplay experience possible.
What struck me about our conversation was how engaging the game was for people of all ages. Pokemon Go is being played by people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. My daughter and her friends are all playing and they are in college! So picture the scene, a beautiful sunny summer day in New York City’s Central Park. My daughter is sitting under the Statute of Jose Marti (a fitting place for any Cuban-American) and watching people exit the safe confines of the park and walk out into one of the busiest places in America while starring at their cell phones. She was counting how many people were walking out of the park and into traffic without looking. While she couldn’t be sure they were all playing Pokemon Go, she could see that a good portion of them were! In the 30 minutes we spoke, she saw more than twenty people engaged in either Pokemon Go (or something else on their phone) walking out into traffic without looking. They were actually chasing and trying to capture computer imagery of Pokemon in the congested streets of New York City. It was “crazy” (her words) how many people were risking their lives to get that next Pokemon cartoon in their phone. This does not surprise me. Our business regarding distracted driving driving accidents has gone through the roof!
Please! Playing a video game while driving, or even while walking in traffic, is really dangerous. The other day, a Baltimore police officer was standing outside his parked car and his body camera filmed an oncoming car crash right into his police vehicle! Once the officers caught up to the driver, they discovered that he had a bloody nose and Pokemon Go active on his phone. Unbelievable! As the driver so eloquently put it, “That’s what I get for playing a stupid game while driving a car.”
Our firm is engaged with the Dori Saves Lives Foundation which teaches students across Florida not to “text and drive”, but we need to expand our message. Any “distracted” driving is going to cause people a lot of harm. From sun up until sun down in the USA, it is estimated there are over 660,000 drivers using their cell phones while they are actually driving. I guarantee you that estimate is way under the actual number of people driving distracted. As an injury attorney, I know that distracted driving kills over 3,000 people every year. In fact, we now estimate that 10% of all roadway deaths are due to distracted driving. These are the estimates of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Last year Floridians suffered over 200 driving deaths and almost 40,000 injury cases all because of distracted driving. This very issue has caused injury attorneys to advertise every 10 feet with billboards on highways. When the problem of distracted driving is causing almost a 1/5 of all car accidents in Palm Beach County, it’s a major problem. See: Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Right now we are working with Dori Saves Lives to support a new tougher distracted driving law. Florida’s present Texting and Driving statute is simply not tough enough to prevent bad behavior. Cell phones have become such an important part of our lives. They are taking over most of the methods in which we communicate. Our society itself is changing. However, does not mean we can permit people to look at their hand held computers (which is what phones are these days) instead of paying attention to the road and driving their car. I hope you will consider supporting this great cause.
Enjoy hunting Pokemon, but remember where you are! Don’t step out into traffic without looking and never play and drive!