Avoiding real-life accidents while engrossed in a virtual world

Mobile device games like Pokemon Go are getting kids out of the house and walking. However, they can also be sources of dangerous distraction near traffic.

The latest smartphone craze to catch the attention of people of all ages in Connecticut and elsewhere is the virtual monster-catching game Pokemon Go. This app is particularly impressive not only for its overnight success, but because of the sheer numbers of gamers who are going outside to get their exercise while hunting the app's virtual creatures. However, this type of technology also has its downside. There is always the possibility of a distraction-related accident when it comes to mobile devices, and Pokemon Go is no exception.

Distraction.gov reports that tens of thousands of people across the United States are injured in motor vehicle collisions related to distraction every year. In addition, thousands more are killed. These casualties include those who are walking near traffic, as well as being inside a vehicle.

While there have not yet been any fatalities related to the Pokemon Go app, there have been several accidents and injuries. According to the New York Daily News, a man who was playing the app while driving struck a tree, severely damaging his car. Fortunately, nobody else was involved in the crash and he escaped with minor injuries. A 15-year-old girl was also injured when she was hit by a car while crossing a busy street in search of the virtual monsters. Numerous other people received minor injuries by tripping or falling while engrossed in the game.

Distraction awareness and prevention

It is important to remain aware of one's surroundings at all times, especially while driving, cautions the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Being distracted by electronic devices is particularly dangerous because it involves manual, visual and cognitive distraction - the three main types of distraction when driving. These take a driver's eyes, body and mind off of driving. When someone is similarly distracted while walking, it is no less dangerous.

Pokemon Go fans who are walking or driving should pay attention to the following tips:

  • Do not become so engrossed in the game that safety obstacles or traffic signs are ignored.
  • Be cautious when walking near traffic, and cross the street at designated crosswalks only when it is safe.
  • Always remain aware of surroundings.
  • Go with a friend or in a group, if possible. Avoid locations that are isolated or not well-lit.
  • Do not trespass, and be careful when sharing location information.
  • Never play the game while driving a vehicle or riding a bicycle.

Apps like Pokemon Go and others that encourage exercise and strategic thinking can be great fun. They can also be a way for people to suffer an injury if they are not careful and do not use the app in the way it was intended. If you were injured by a negligent or distracted driver, you may be able to pursue compensation by contacting an experienced personal injury attorney in East Hartford.