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‘Pokémon Go’ Craze Prompts State Warning On Distracted Driving, Walking

The Suffern Tavern historical marker seen through the lens of Pokemon Go.
The Suffern Tavern historical marker seen through the lens of Pokemon Go. Photo Credit: Derick Goff

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) are urging New Yorkers to put their phones down instead of playing the popular Pokémon GO game while behind the wheel or walking near or across roadways.

Pokémon GO, a free mobile app released on July 6, utilizes smartphone cameras and GPS to allow players to search the real world to find and catch species of Pokémon. Since its release there have been reports from around the country of users playing Pokémon Go while driving or crossing the street, including an upstate car crash , prompting warnings from law enforcement and traffic safety partners.

“This new, all-consuming Pokémon Go craze has caught the entire country by surprise and as such we are concerned about the consequences playing this game can have on public safety,” said DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner and GTSC Acting Chair Terri Egan. “Distracted driving is behavior we at DMV and GTSC speak out against all year long. What is meant to be a fun game can have tragic real-world consequences if you’re playing it while driving or crossing the street. Simply put, catching virtual creatures to get to the next level is not worth risking your life or the lives of others.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in April that efforts by state and local law enforcement have resulted in an 840 percent increase in tickets for texting while driving in New York State since 2011. While the number of cell phone tickets have decreased each year since 2011, texting tickets issued during the same period have increased substantially with the proliferation of smartphones.

For more on the upstate crash in which Pokémon Go was cited as the reason, click here.

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