YOU DON'T HAVE TO CATCH'EM ALL: 'The need for Pokemon Go players to be completely engaged with their screens, is cause for concern,' says the Automobile Association as it joins local and international road safety campaigners. Image: Parent24 / Zayaan Schroeder Mollagee
Johannesburg - Earlier in July, Wheels24 reported on two crashes related to Pokemon GO players driving while playing the popular mobile game. One of the crashes saw an inattentive driver smash his vehicle into patrolling officers.
The Automobile Association (AA) warns players not to become road-death statistics while searching for Pokemon creatures.
While not officially available in South Africa yet, Pokemon Go has arrived in SA, thousands of mobile gamers are already playing this popular game.
How it works
Pokemon Go uses your mobile phone’s GPS system, and built-in clock, to figure out where and when you are while the game is open. The game populates the "world" around you with Pokemon. Players end up looking at the world through their phone’s screen and camera, as creatures are superposed on top of the "real world".
Players are encouraged to travel around in their hunt for Pokemon.
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The need to 'catch'em all' has resulted in some users playing while driving and many pedestrians are distracted on the road.
Why is it a danger to road users?
The need for players to be completely engaged with their screens, is, however, cause for concern, reports the AA, as it joins local and international road safety campaigners in calling for caution while playing.
The effect of this is that many Pokemon Go players are glued to their screens, while walking or driving, concentrating on their cellphones instead of the road ahead.
The AA said: “Reports are already coming in from other countries where people have been involved in crashes as Pokemon Go players have not been focusing on the road. There are also reports of road rage incidents involving this game.
"While we are not calling for anyone to not play the game, we want to urge anyone who is, to play responsibly, and be alert to the roads they are travelling on, whether by car, motorbike or on foot.”
The AA said distracted driving, and walking, remains a problem in South Africa with too many people using their mobile devices while they should be concentrating on the core activity they are involved in.
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The AA warned: "This is especially true for people who are walking. Statistics from the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) show that up to 35% of all deaths on our roads are pedestrians. This is extremely worrying, and people who aren’t paying attention while walking and playing Pokemon Go are at risk of being part of this statistic."
The AA offers the following suggestions to players:
• Don’t play while driving, or while walking near traffic
• Pay attention, and be vigilant, when you are playing. Distraction can cause injuries (even death), especially if you walk in traffic
• If possible, take someone with you when you are playing as a second pair of eyes to watch out for possible dangers
• Avoid playing Pokemon Go while boarding or alighting busses, trains or taxis; focus on the road and traffic and get to a safe place before playing
The AA concluded: "We urge everyone to enjoy this, or any other gaming experience, but not to sacrifice their, or anyone else’s real life to catch a virtual character."