The mobile phone game Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are warning against the dangers of using your phone while driving. The augmented-reality game challenges users to catch Pokémon on an abstract map on their smartphones. This has led to people running through parks, shopping malls, car parks and everywhere in-between.
The franchise was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995 and is centred on fictional creatures called “Pokémon”, which humans, known as Pokémon Trainers, catch and train to battle each other for sport. The internet and the virtual world can be a great place to learn and explore and although games such as this can be fun, it is also important to be aware of the risks involved.
The list of most dangerous driving distractions currently includes talking on the phone, using social media, driving whilst drowsy and eating or drinking. No doubt Pokémon Go will be added to the list before long.
According to IAM Roadsmart, 8% of drivers admitted to driving while using a video calling application and the IAM welcomed the banning of mobile phones as smartphone use whilst driving reduces reaction times by up the 35%.
“Using a phone causes physical, visual, mental and auditory distractions, leading to significantly slower reaction times. Recent IAM research has found it can be more distracting than driving with alcohol or cannabis in your system.”
The game launched only a matter of weeks ago and already a number of road accidents have made media headlines. Just last week the body camera of a Police officer filmed the moment a Pokemon Go player crashed into a patrol car.
It is illegal to drive a vehicle or ride a motorbike while using a hand-held mobile phone or a similar device. Hands-free phones can also be a distraction and you’ll risk prosecution for not having proper control of your vehicle when using one.
Inspector Rosemary Leech, from the PSNI warned that,
“The offence of using your mobile phone to perform an ‘interactive communication function’ whilst driving will leave the driver liable to a £60 fine and 3 penalty points. PSNI will be actively seeking out Pokémon participants, so don’t be caught out by going hunting whilst behind the wheel of your car.”
How you could be breaking the law:
If, while driving, you pick up or use any type of phone that must be held you will be breaking the law.
This means you should not use your mobile phone:
• when you are stopped at traffic lights
• when you are queuing in traffic
• to make or receive calls
• to send or receive picture and text messages
• to access the internet