So … Is it Safe to Go with Pokémon Go?
I have to admit it…I’m getting old. To some people, I’m probably already old. I remember when Pokémon was a big deal, not because I played it, but because I saw other people playing it. Within the past couple of years, I watched my nephew and niece play. I think I even bought them related games for their Nintendos. I, like everyone else, (I assume) think Pikachu is cute. Clearly, when Nintendo created Pokémon, it hit some sort of nail on the head. But, with the new app, Pokémon Go, Nintendo seems to have attracted the attention not only of people who have played the various Pokémon games in the past, but with people of all ages. Even I decided to install the app on my phone the other day. I was very amused to see a Pokémon hanging out on my porch. And a bit disappointed not to see any other Pokémon near where I live. I am told there are a lot in Philadelphia, perhaps I will find some next time I am in the city.
What I wanted to write about today, since I am a total law and technology geek, is the legal risks that come up with this very cool app. In particular, I want to talk about car accidents and pedestrian problems. I’ll talk about other issues in another post.
Walking Dangers of Pokémon Go
It is no secret that people already have a tendency to look at their phones while walking around. There are myriad cases of people being injured from not looking where they are going. One of the most famous comes from here in Pennsylvania. Remember when a woman fell in a fountain while texting at the mall? She sued, but later dropped her case. The mall security guard who posted the video ended up getting fired. Well, it is no surprise that people are running into problems while using the Pokémon Go app, because they are not looking where they are going.
I decided that I would take a look around my building to see what I could find as far as potential risks for people using the app. I happen to work in a city called Bala Cynwyd (pronunciation: /ˈbælə ˈkɪnwʊd/ BAL-ə-KIN-wuud Welsh: [‘balaˈkənwɨd]) right outside of Philadelphia.
Actually, Philadelphia begins right across the street from my office building. As I walked across the parking lot, I found a Zubat. I also noticed quite a few places I could go. The biggest thing I saw was across Route 1. For those who don’t know, Route 1, also called City Avenue, is a big road. You don’t want to go running across it to go to your Pokémon gym. Hopefully, people won’t be that foolish. But I fear they will. Given we already have a huge problem with pedestrian v. car incidents in the Philadelphia area, please use the app carefully as you are walking around. In my Zubat image you can see that there is a walking bridge. People need to use that instead of darting across the street. But I have seen people dart across Route 1 for “less important reasons” than catching a Pokémon.
Car Crashes and Pokémon Go
Car crashes are a huge potential issue with Pokémon Go. I discussed the app with a number of people at work today. One person told me that a relative of hers, normally a very careful driver, was playing while he was driving this morning. I have heard the same from a lot of people. I wish I could say that I am surprised, but I’m not. Texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving are a huge problem. Fortunately, the major car accident people have been claiming occurred due to the app is a hoax. But I don’t think it will surprise anyone if car crashes do start occurring.
I am not trying to discourage anyone from using Pokémon Go. I like the fact that someone has finally found a way to make augmented reality work. Even better, it is wonderful to hear stories about people getting out and about, talking with each other and getting exercise. All I ask is that you please make sure that you are careful as you are wandering around. Keep an eye where you are going, and please, don’t catch-em-all while you drive. Parents, make sure that your children are especially careful, and watch out where they are going.