It was only a matter of time before the smartphone sensation Pokémon Go caused its first car accident. On July 13, Auburn, NY police issued a statement saying it responded to an accident involving an injured driver who had crashed into a tree. The driver admitted he was trying to catch a Pokémon.
“Luckily the driver was not seriously injured but this is an example of how easily accidents can occur when someone is engaged in the game and not paying attention,” the statement said. “The accident investigation is ongoing.”
While it was unclear if he was able to catch his quarry, the driver did manage to mangle the front end of his car. Auburn police did not say what the driver would be charged with.
The accident comes only one day after New York State Department of Motor Vehicles issued a warning to players not to play while driving or even while walking near a crossing or intersection. Even though that warning clearly didn’t help, Auburn police issued its own advice to players:
- Do not use the application when you are operating a motor vehicle or bicycle
- Do not trespass on private property when trying to catch a Pokémon
- Be aware of your surroundings when walking and do not stare down at your phone ignoring hazards around you, like roadways, drop-offs, waterways, etc.
- Use caution when sharing your location with strangers
- Travel in groups in public/well lit locations
You can find more tips for how to play the game safely here.
Playing Pokémon Go – or any smartphone app – while driving can land you a ticket under New York State’s distracted driving laws. Any use of an electronic device behind the wheel is a violation of statute VTL 1225(d), and carries a fine of up to $400 and five points on your license.
If you or someone you love has been ticketed for distracted driving or any other traffic offense, it is essential that you retain an attorney. Adam H. Rosenblum of the Rosenblum Law is an experienced criminal defense and traffic ticket attorney with offices in New York and New Jersey. Email him or call 888-203-2619 for a free consultation about your case.