Pokemon Go: An Important Reminder of the Dangers of Distracted Driving
The recent release of the Pokemon Go app has millions of people getting out and about to catch as many Pokemon as possible, whether it’s by walking, riding a bike, or driving. While the Pokemon Go craze has had some positive benefits like encouraging people to get more exercise, meet new people, and in one memorable case, even got a person with an outstanding warrant to unwittingly turn himself in to police, it hasn’t been all fun and games for everyone involved. Not long after the app was released, reports of car accidents caused by people playing Pokemon Go while driving started surfacing. Although some stories turned out to be hoaxes, plenty of car accidents actually have happened as a result of the game.
Just like sending a text message, answering a phone call, and making social media updates while driving, playing Pokemon Go while driving is a form of distracted driving. Distracted driving includes anything that takes a driver’s eyes or concentration off the road or makes a driver take their hands off the steering wheel. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 8 people are killed and over 1,100 people are injured on a daily basis in the United States as a result of distracted driving.
Attempting to use your cell phone for any purpose while driving is extremely dangerous, not only to yourself but to other motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Research has shown that talking on a cell phone while driving quadruples the risk of an accident occurring, making one just as likely as it would be if you were driving drunk. Texting while driving is even more dangerous than talking on a phone. Out of every six seconds a driver spends trying to text, their eyes are off the road for an average of 4.6 of those seconds. This means that if the driver is texting while driving at 55 MPH, they drive the length of a football field without looking at the road. Despite the dangers it creates, a survey by AT&T showed that 70% of respondents admitted to using their phones while driving.
Although texting and cell phone usage in general are often the first things that come to mind when the subject of distracted driving comes up, it’s important to remember that it also includes many other things. Eating while driving, reaching for a drink, adjusting the heat or air conditioner, carrying on a conversation, adjusting your GPS, changing the radio station, putting on makeup, or tending to pets and children in the vehicle are all considered forms of distracted driving.
To eliminate these types of distractions, the best things you can do are make sure you’re prepared before you leave and pull over to handle anything urgent that comes up along the way. Wait to eat until you’re able to stop and make sure your GPS is programmed before you leave. If one of your children needs to be cared for while you’re driving, pull over or into a parking lot so you’ll be able to give them your full attention. If you really do need to make a call or send a text message during the trip, stop the car or have a passenger do it for you.
Although it’s impossible to fully stop people from having conversations while driving, keep in mind that conversations are considered a cognitive distraction, so try to save any conversations that are either very important or could get heated for a time when you won’t be driving.
If you’re having a great time playing Pokemon Go, go right ahead and have fun with it! Catch as many as you can! Just remember to take a break while you’re driving.