It’s the computer game that has taken the world by storm. But would you dream of playing Pokémon Go while driving?
The question seems a no-brainer. Yet the growing number of warnings and news stories surrounding the new craze suggests that it’s anything but.
Some road safety experts claim that the Nintendo game is a danger to motorists and pedestrians alike and fear that it could increase the already alarming number of drivers using held-held mobile phones.
Police and charities are urging drivers to remain alert for transfixed gamers walking into the road without looking.
Don’t drink-drive, drug-drive or Pokémon Go-drive
The problem is already being taken seriously enough for Richmond Police to issue warnings, albeit pun-laced ones, about the risks of playing Pokémon Go while driving.
The south-west London force took to social media to warn players to be aware of their surroundings and not to ‘#Pokémon and drive’
Officers warned Pokémon catchers that they could face three points on their licence and a fine of £100 for using a mobile while driving.
US and Canada law enforcers have already issued such warnings.
Youngsters most at risk
The message is being targeted towards young motorists as they’re statistically more likely to commit such an offence.
Department for Transport (DfT) statistics show that more drivers in Scotland and England aged 17-29 (5.2%) have been seen using mobile phones than other age groups.
Mobile phones played a part in 21 road deaths and 84 serious accidents in the UK in 2014.
These are stats that ministers are taking seriously and the Government is planning to raise existing penalties for using a mobile phone while driving to £150 and four points.
What the road safety charities say
IAM RoadSmart’s Samson Ruwangu admits he almost fell over playing Pokémon Go while walking and says that behind the wheel of a car should be the very last place players should be looking for Pokémon.
He adds that Pokémon Go requires concentration and hand-eye coordination.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says that mobile phone-using drivers have slower reaction times when it comes to responding to hazards. It says that split seconds can make all the difference between having an accident and avoiding one.
Australian police have already punished Pokémon Go offenders.
Two teenagers were fined 325 Australian dollars (£185) each after they were caught putting others in great danger by a pedestrian crossing in Sydney.
New South Wales police officials described the 17-year-olds’ distraction levels as “worrying”.
How Pokémon Go works
Pokémon Go was released in Britain on Thursday.
The virtual reality treasure hunt tracks where you are, making monsters “appear” all around you on your device’s screen. Players are then able to catch them.
Game-playing cyclists and pedestrians have already been seen crossing roads with no thought for passing traffic, the Mail Online reports.