Over the past couple of decades, the use of cell phones has increased significantly across the country. As a result, more and more people are using their phones while driving, putting themselves and others at risk for motor vehicle accidents.
The latest pop culture phenomenon is already proving to be a danger to drivers and pedestrians. Pokémon Go, a popular smartphone game, has been downloaded by millions of people of all ages. In fact, market intelligence firm Sensor Tower estimates that the app has been downloaded approximately 7.5 million times since its July 6 U.S. release. The craze doesn't look like it will be dying down anytime soon, with the game bringing in $1.6 million in revenue every day.
The Pokémon Go app requires users to move around while looking down at their phones to capture and train Pokémon characters. However, in New York, it is illegal to hold or use a phone while driving. Exceptions to this general rule include hands-free communication, GPS devices affixed to a vehicle surface, and emergency phone calls. Unfortunately for Pokémon Go users, game-playing is not one of these exceptions. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has issued a warning to gamers about the dangers of playing and driving, in order to prevent fatal accidents from occurring.
New York authorities have also increased enforcement of distracted driving laws, which means increased distracted driving penalties. Drivers caught texting and driving could face up to $250 in fines and license suspensions. Despite these changes, reports of Pokémon Go related-accidents have already surfaced. Drivers in the Staten Island area shouldn't let anything get in the way of safe driving practices, including playing a video game.
Source: Democrat & Chronicle, "DMV: Don't drive and play Pokemon Go," Victoria E. Freile and Joseph Spector, July 12, 2016