Dallas, 10/17/2016 /SubmitPressRelease123/
“Since Pokémon Go was released July 6, 2016, millions of people have become obsessed with the reality game that allows players to use the GPS on their mobile phones to find various creatures collectively known as Pokémon”, says auto accident lawyer Amy Witherite.
But for all the fun players are having with this game, it is also helping to spike auto accidents throughout the U.S. According to police reports, incidents of driver inattention due to playing Pokémon Go has increased since the game was released, resulting in motor vehicle accidents.
Several of these accidents have taken place in Texas cities, as well as in other major U.S. cities. A closer examination of these auto accidents, as well as relevant statistics regarding the number of accidents caused by distracted driving, may help motorists avoid collisions that could cause injury or even death.
Pokémon Go Car Accidents
College Station, Texas — On July 12, Texas A&M police reported on Twitter that there had been a two-vehicle accident on campus. A moving vehicle rear-ended an unoccupied, illegally parked car, triggering the deployment of airbags in the first vehicle. Campus police also reported that the illegally-parked vehicle had been abandoned because the owner had left his car to pursue a Pokémon in the vicinity. The exact wording of the police tweet was, “1st driver had exited to catch a Pokémon.”
Prior to the accident, someone had reported that a car was parked near one of the university’s buildings, and that the driver and a passenger were acting suspiciously. The suspicious behavior was later attributed to the vehicle occupants playing Pokémon Go. Police did not disclose the name of the driver whose car was hit, or the name of the driver who rear-ended the parked car.
Walled Lake, Michigan — On July 29, a similar auto accident occurred in Walled Lake, Mich, a division of Commerce Township. The Oakland County Sheriff’s department reported that a 28-year-old man whose name was not disclosed, struck a legally-parked vehicle and fled. Police traced accident debris from the crash site back to the suspect’s home, and placed him under arrest.
The man admitted that he had been drinking and playing Pokémon Go prior to the accident. Police obtained a search warrant, and took the suspect to Huran Valley Sinai hospital to draw his blood to determine his blood-alcohol level. The suspect was then booked into the Oakland County jail pending an arraignment on criminal charges.
Auburn, NY — A more serious accident took place on July 14 in Auburn, a suburb of New York City. Auburn Police reported a car accident in which a vehicle had swerved off-road and hit a tree. The front end of the vehicle was crumpled, the windshield cracked, and sections of the engine had penetrated into the vehicle. The driver was transported to Auburn Community Hospital for cuts and scratches on his legs, but was not seriously injured.
The driver, whose name police did not disclose, admitted to playing Pokémon Go while he was driving, which distracted him and led to the accident. In a statement, Auburn Police Chief Shawn Butler said, “Luckily the driver was not seriously injured but this is an example of how easily accidents can occur when someone is engaged in the game and not paying attention.”
Baltimore, Maryland — Not paying attention is what got a Baltimore man into a heap of trouble on July 19, when his SUV smashed into a Baltimore police car, because he was distracted playing Pokémon Go while driving. The entire car accident was caught on a police officer’s body-camera video footage. In the footage, police officers are standing outside their police car as in the background a vehicle identified as a Toyota Rav 4 rapidly approaches on the street behind them.
The Rav 4 then swerved and plowed into the back of the police car, then continued moving. The body-camera video footage shows an officer racing down the block to where the SUV has stopped. A man emerges from the driver’s side, raising a phone that shows the Pokémon Go app, and says to the officers, “This is what I get for playing this dumb (expletive) game.”
Luckily, no one was injured in the car accident, but Baltimore Police spokesperson T.J. Smith used the wreck to caution other players. “This is no different than texting and driving, changing a CD, putting on makeup or eating a sandwich,” he said. “You have to pay attention while driving.”
Fall City, Washington — On July 19, a Washington State Patrol officer responded to an accident on SR 202 & 332nd st. Apparently, the driver at fault – whose name was not disclosed – crashed into the back of a Chevy sedan as both vehicles were headed east. When questioned by police, the driver who caused the accident said he was playing Pokémon Go as he drove, indicating that driver inattention was the primary factor that led to the car accident.
Neither the Pokémon-distracted driver, or the Chevy sedan owner were injured, and according to State Patrol, this was the first reported accident in the state directly linked to driver distraction due to playing Pokémon Go.
Rutland, Vermont — Rutland Police Department officers arrested 21-year-old Nicholas Coccia after a single-car accident on July 24. Coccia, who was also allegedly under the influence, told police that he had been playing Pokémon Go prior the accident, and that the app had taken his attention off the road. Police gave Coccia a sobriety test, and arrested him on DUI charges after his blood-alcohol level measured at twice the legal limit. Coccia was not injured in the accident.
Distracted Driving Statistics
As the number of car accidents linked to drivers who are playing Pokémon Go rises, police departments and auto organizations are trying to sound the alarm. The American Automobile Association (AAA) is urging drivers to avoid playing Pokémon Go when operating their vehicles. Robert Sinclair, an AAA spokesperson believes that playing the app poses a greater threat to road safety than texting.
“We’ve always talked about texting and how it was the worse because it generally required both your hands and of course both your eyes to be off the road,” he said. “Certainly, this is taking it one step further.”
Distracted driving – also known as driver inattention – is categorized as any activity that takes a driver’s hands or eyes off the road for a minimum of two seconds.
According to the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving caused the deaths of 3,179 people in 2014, and injured an additional 431,000. The NHTSA has three categories of distracted driving: manual, visual and cognitive. Examples of manual distracted driving include texting, playing on apps such as Pokémon Go, and accessing social media sites.
Examples of visual distracted driving include gazing at passing road or highway signs, or staring at other cars. Any mental activity that takes a motorist’s mind off the primary task of driving, such as rehearsing a speech, is categorized as cognitive distracted driving.
The NHTSA estimates that more than 660,000 drivers use their cellphones – with or without hands-free devices – while driving. Young drivers between the ages of 16 to 23 comprise 27 percent of all distracted driver, and 38 percent of distracted drivers in fatal auto accidents were using their mobile phones prior to the crash.
It’s no wonder then that police departments are concerned that the Pokémon Go obsession will increase the number of car accidents linked to playing the popular game.
Data analytics firms estimate that nearly 10 million people are playing Pokémon Go on a daily basis in the U.S. If even a small percentage of those users also play the game while driving, the implications for future distracted driver accidents are frightening.
To combat the rising incidents of auto accidents caused by drivers who play Pokémon Go, several apps have been developed that disable the game while a person is driving.
In addition, police departments throughout the country are urging Pokémon Go users who are walking in traffic to be aware of their surroundings at all times, because pedestrians distracted by the game can wander into oncoming traffic and cause a car accident.
Studies have also linked certain personality types as more likely to text or play games while driving.
The University of Alabama’s Translational Research for Injury Prevention conducted a recent study that showed older drivers with outgoing personalities were more likely to text and play games while driving, but that younger drivers with more introverted and conscientious personalities were more likely to do the same. The study could help states better target their distracted driver campaigns to the public.
But even in the face of all these facts and statistics, people that have been involved in auto accidents caused by distracted drivers in the Dallas/Ft. Worth region, or in Houston should seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer.
Whether it’s compensation for pain and suffering, or replacement of lost income, a personal injury lawyer can provide much-needed comfort in a difficult time.
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