Almost overnight Pokémon Go has taken the digital and real worlds by storm. The augmented reality app already has more users than Twitter and social media is abuzz with stories of the crazy lengths people have gone to in order to catch a Snorlax.
Sadly, the new app craze is bringing with it a dangerous trend of playing while driving. While the viral story of a multi-car accident resulting from one driver’s attempt to catch a Pikachu turned out to be false, many other users have admitted to trying to catch ‘em all behind the wheel. On Tuesday, July 12, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles warned users not to play the game while driving or even while walking near a crossing or intersection.
New York State’s distracted driving laws cover more than just texting and phone calls. Any use of an electronic device while operating a vehicle is a violation of statute VTL 1225(d), and carries a fine of up to $400 and 5 points on your license.
However, if you can’t pass up the chance to snag a Clefairy on the go, here are eight tips to help you stay safe and avoid a ticket.
- Bring a friend. Since you shouldn’t be handling your phone while you drive, let a passenger watch for Pokémon hanging out on the side of the road.
- Hire a driver. Clever entrepreneurs are offering to drive Pokémon Go players around known stops, both to let them rest their sore legs and to allow them to focus on their phone.
- Take local roads. While it will undoubtedly take longer, it’s far easier to pull over to battle or catch Pokémon on side streets than on major roadways or highways.
- Use signals. Speaking of pulling over, be sure to use your blinker to signal that you are about to pull over.
- Ease up on the brakes. Don’t risk causing an accident. You’re better off squaring the block to come back for that Bulbasaur rather than slamming on the brakes to avoid missing it.
- Walk instead. This is how the majority of Pokémon Go players are getting around and how the app is intended to be used. However, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings and to abide by pedestrian laws; you can be ticketed for disregarding crossing signals and failing to yield right-of-way, plus it’s also incredibly dangerous.
- Take the bus. In New York, the public buses travel an average speed of 9.5 mph during their route, which is just under the suspected 10 mph limit for hatching eggs.
- Stick to known roads. Don’t drive or walk down any streets you are unfamiliar with or know to be dangerous. Some savvy criminals are using the app to lure players into an ambush and rob them.
It is essential that you retain an attorney if you or someone you love has been ticketed for distracted driving or any other traffic offense. 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.