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Accidents Increasing Worldwide as Pokemon Players Get Behind the Wheel

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The new popular game “Pokemon Go” has become a concern to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) and the American Automobile Association (AAA).

That’s because some people aren’t putting the game away when they get behind the wheel.

On July 18, 2016, Baltimore police were almost struck by a passing SUV because the driver was distracted by the game on his smartphone. This is only one of many accidents reported to be connected to the popular app.

Driver Sideswipes Patrol Car While Playing Pokemon

According to ABC News, officers from the southeast district had just finished a service call and were on the sidewalk talking when a Toyota Rav 4 struck one of the patrol cars parked nearby. Fortunately, none of the officers were in the car at the time.

The incident was captured on one of the officer’s body cams, which shows the SUV flying by and then sideswiping the patrol car, pushing it forward. The driver stopped further down the block. As officers approached, the driver of the SUV got out of his vehicle and told officers he was looking down at his phone, playing the Pokemon Go game when he struck the patrol car. He showed the game on his phone to the officer.

No injuries were reported in this incident, but others haven’t been so lucky.

“It’s a game, but it’s not a game when you’re behind the wheel,” public information officer T. J. Smith told ABC News. “This could have easily, easily been a tragedy.”

Drivers and Pedestrians at Risk if Playing While Moving

About one week earlier, on July 12th, another driver got into an accident while playing Pokemon Go. A 28-year-old man, was driving in Auburn, New York when he crashed head-on into a tree. A neighbor heard the crash and took pictures showing the engine and the entire front end pushed into the passenger side.

Fortunately, the driver wasn’t seriously hurt, and admitted to police that he was playing the game when he crashed.

A teenager from Pittsburgh didn’t get off quite so easily. She was playing the game while crossing a major highway on her way home at about five o’clock in the evening. She says she had looked both ways before crossing, but was staring at the game as she went across the street. She was hit by a car and rushed to the hospital. She suffered bruising and minor injuries to her collarbone and foot, and was expected to recover fully.

Accidents Happening Worldwide

This is not just happening in the US. In Melbourne, Australia, a 19-year-old young man was playing the game when he drove his car through a school fence and straight into the school building. No one was seriously injured.

And in Mumbai India, a 26-year-old man was stopped at a traffic light. He and his brother were engrossed in the game, and didn’t see an oncoming auto rickshaw (motorized 3-wheeled vehicle). The rickshaw crashed into them, damaging the vehicle, and then drove off. The young man stated he regretted not paying more attention, and would now work to increase awareness of safety issues when playing the game.

The AAA urges drivers not to use the game while behind the wheel, as it could result in potentially deadly consequences.