Authorities around the country are now adding Pokemon to the list of distractions and safety hazards for drivers and pedestrians alike.
In this Friday, July 8, 2016, file photo, “Pokemon Go” is displayed on a cell phone in Los Angeles. Pokemon Go’s origins are as peculiar as any of the creatures inhabiting the game. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Last week, an Auburn, N.Y. man crashed his car into a tree while playing the augmented reality mobile game. This week, men in both Dover, Del. and Baltimore smashed into a police cars trying to “catch ‘em all.”
“That’s what I get for playing this dumb-ss game,” said the Baltimore man, after stepping out of his SUV and flashing the phone screen at the police officers.
The entire incident was captured on the officer’s body-worn camera as he and other officers stood on a street corner steps away from a patrol car. The car can be seen speeding up the 2900 block of Eastern Avenue before striking the vehicle and narrowly missing a bus as it swerves.
Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith said no one was injured in the accident, but that it should serve as a warning to distracted drivers and pedestrians.
“This no different than texting and driving, changing a CD, putting on makeup, or eating a sandwich—you have to pay attention while driving,” Smith said a press conference. “We’re talking—usually—about texting and driving, but now we’re telling you don’t play this Pokemon game while you drive. If you’re walking, be mindful of where you are going. You can’t aimlessly wander around to play a game on your cell phone.”
Smith acknowledged that new technology means new safety precautions. He urged players to avoid completely zoning out of the real world as they play the game, which uses GPS technology to locate Pokemon and displays them via the phone’s camera.
Jordy Tshimanga, left, and Brett Sapp look at their phones during a “Pokemon Go” event at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., Thursday, July 14, 2016. Nebraska Athletic Department officials opened Memorial Stadium for two hours Thursday to accommodate “Pokemon Go” players eager to capture animated monsters at the venerated field. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
“There are way too many people that have their heads buried in their phones trying to catch a Pokemon and the criminals are catching you,” he said, speaking of the multiple robberies that have occurred as players wander across the cities playing the game.
Pokemon Go was released in the U.S. by Niantic on July 6 as a free app for smartphones. As players collect certain Pokemons available in their area, they can trade up for more powerful characters in the game. Players can also join teams.
Since the release, Pokemon Go has sent players over the edge—literally. On July 13, authorities said two California men needed rescue after walking off of a cliff while playing Pokemon Go, according to The Los Angeles Times. At least one person has been stabbed while out playing the game, and more than one dead body has been found by players wondering into bushes in search of their next Pokemon.