Is Pokémon Go a Cause for Distraction and Accidents?


Pokémon Go app

Maraba Roznik, Editor and Reporter

Last week on Tuesday, July 12, 2016, a 15 year old girl from Tarentum, Pennsylvania named Autumn Dieseroth was hit by a car on the highway at around 5 pm. According to CBS Pittsburgh news, she is recovering in the hospital from the crash.

Why did the girl cross a four-laned highway during rush hour? To catch the Pokémon.

By now most of us know all about the new app craze called Pokémon Go. This game allows people to create their own avatars called “Trainers”, and enter the digital realm of Pokémon. The app uses GPS tracking technology to recreate the real world into a the Pokemon world so people can look for and capture Pokémon characters on their phone.

Living in the Pokémon universe is all fun and games, until someone gets hurt, like Dieseroth. She is currently suffering from a collarbone and foot injury.

Dieseroth and her mother Tracey Nolan both believe the Pokémon Go app was the cause for her injuries.

Nolan told CBS Pittsburgh, “I’m blaming the game itself because it’s dragging kids across highways, major highways.”

However, others disagree that the accident was the app’s fault.

Rising Junior Greyson MacLean says, “Firstly, the loading screen and the agreement at the start of the app both warn the user to pay attention to their surroundings. Second, I feel that laying all of the blame on the app is generally inappropriate. If she had been texting in the street, the blame would be on her, not her phone.”

Rising Junior Molly Teske says, “I understand that they’re upset that their child was hurt, but at some point they have to realize that she was the one that was in the middle of the highway by choice, the app didn’t force her to do anything. She needs to stop playing a victim, and take responsibility for her actions. She had a lapse of judgement, and made the choice to be on a busy highway.”

Dieseroth certainly isn’t the only person to have gotten hurt while playing Pokémon Go. There have been many other police reports recounting accidents and deaths related to the app.

Some people, called Pokéfanatics, get so caught up in the app that they disregard basic road safety all together. Children and adults alike have failed to watch where they are going while walking or driving during their adventurous hunt for Pokémon. According to a video by Local 4 Defenders posted on ClickOnDetroit, the Pokémon Go app is a cause of distraction for drivers.

Teske says, “The app is a cause of distraction, but it’s not the only cause of distraction to driving and walking.”

On the same day Dieseroth was hit by a car, a driver in Auburn, New York crashed into a tree, injuring himself and totaling his car at 10:45 pm. According to an Auburn police report posted on USA Today, the man admitted to playing Pokémon Go while driving.

MacLean says, “That was just a blatant lack of common sense. If you can’t text while driving, why could you catch Pokémon?”

Clearly accidents can happen, especially when one is not paying attention. A member of the Auburn police department told USA Today his suggestions for Pokéfanatics to keep safety in mind. He recommended for players to refrain from using the Pokémon Go app while operating a motor vehicle or a bike, to travel in groups in well lit places, and to always be away of their surroundings.