Texting or talking on your cell phone while driving is not the only types of distractions that put people at risk when driving. There is a new epidemic of distracted driving accidents that are the result of a gaming app that you play on your cell phone. You may have heard of Pokémon GO, a reality video game that encourages players to “catch” digital creatures that appear on an in-game map of the real surrounding area. In other words, people wander around their neighborhoods or even public parks or malls in search of certain creatures that can then be captured on their apps. Playing this game while driving has become a serious problem as our accident attorney can attest.
Study shows that Pokémon GO has increased risk of car accidents
There has been at least one study that suggests drivers who play this game on their phones have been responsible for a significant increase in car accidents including fatal ones. According to an article in USA Today, a driver crashed into a tree last year while playing Pokémon GO just weeks after it had been released. While its popularity has decreased some since then, it remains one of the top grossing mobile phone apps according to Google Play.
How is “distracted driving” defined?
The legal definition of “distracted driving” is “[a]ny activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving.” There are actually three categories of activities that result in distracted driving: visual, manual and cognitive.
Visual distractions occur when you take your eyes off the road, whereas manual distractions result when you take your hands off the wheel. Cognitive distractions are probably the hardest to avoid. As humans, distractions are inevitable and cannot be avoided altogether. But, eating while driving, results in all three categories of distracted driving; visual, manual and cognitive.
How big of a problem is distracted driving?
According to statistics published by the federal government, 3,154 people were killed, and more than 400,000 injured, in 2013 in car accidents involving distracted drivers. Twenty-year-olds have the largest proportion of drivers who are reportedly distracted, 10% of whom are involved in fatal crashes with a distracted driver. An experienced car accident lawyer can explain the dangers in more detail.
Car accidents aren’t the only legal issues involving Pokémon GO
As you can imagine, there are several legal issues that have arisen as a result of this phenomenon. In addition to distracted driving accidents and injuries, many people have been arrested for trespassing as they tried to catch rare creatures. Because Pokémon creatures appear in a wide variety of locations, some of those may be located on private property. In some cases, players have trespassed in parks after they were closed to the public. These issues are very unique to this type of augmented reality game.
Another issue on the roadway is the distracted pedestrian
Smartphones have already resulted in distracted pedestrians crossing streets without taking their eyes off their devices. Pedestrians can be seen, especially in areas near colleges and universities, texting while walking, which can result in a person falling off the curb or even walking into traffic. What makes that worse are the Pokémon GO players who are walking around trying to catch rare creatures. While it is obviously necessary for pedestrians to be aware of their surroundings, drivers on the roadway must also be more diligent in avoiding these unique dangers.
How distracted pedestrians create havoc on the roadway
According to some studies, a pedestrian standing at a corner, who is distracted by their electronic device typically has at least a two-second delay before crossing the street. This can easily cause confusion for everyone at the intersection, especially the drivers. Also, because of these distractions, these pedestrians often do not make it all the way across the street before the light changes. As they are oblivious to their surroundings, they create a dangerous situation for drivers.
Pedestrians can be at fault for their own injuries
Typically, the driver is held liable for hitting and injuring a pedestrian. However, in situations where contributory or comparative negligence is involved, that may not be the case. While drivers are required to be more cautious when they know pedestrians are likely to be present, pedestrians are not without fault in every situation. As your personal injury lawyer will tell you, depending on the situation, the pedestrian may be liable to the driver.
If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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