Lawmakers in California introduce a bill that would make it illegal to play Pokemon GO and other distracting mobile games while operating a motor vehicle.
Japan was one of the last regions to receive Pokemon GO, the augmented reality mobile game that has taken the world by storm. Fans in Japan were undoubtedly excited to get in on the craze, but its release there has brought with it some serious problems, like multiple fatalities caused by distracted motorists playing the game. Legislators in California are hoping to prevent the same from happening in their state, introducing new laws designed to curb the dangerous behavior.
California governor Jerry Brown was sent a new bill proposal that would expand the state’s current anti-texting and driving laws to include Pokemon GO, along with other potential distractions from handheld devices. The bill would also make it easier for police to enforce driver distraction laws already on the books in California, which should hopefully discourage people from playing the game while driving.
Of course, people that are old enough to drive should also be old enough to know that playing a video game while operating a vehicle is dangerous, regardless of if it’s illegal or not. To date, there have been numerous automobile accidents directly tied to Pokemon GO, like the woman in Japan that was killed by a driver playing the game, the cop car that was sideswiped, and many other examples, so it’s clearly a recurring issue.
Since people should already know not to play Pokemon GO while driving, it’s hard to say whether these laws will actually be effective, especially since Niantic’s own efforts to make the game safer don’t seem to be working. A recent update for Pokemon GO added some additional safety measures, including a prompt for players to confirm that they are the passenger in a vehicle and not the driver, but if these incidents continue then more drastic measures may be required – like making it impossible to play at certain speeds.
And it’s not just people playing the game while driving that need to be addressed; avid Pokemon GO players have come under harm in other situations as well. For example, in California, the very state where playing Pokemon GO while driving may soon be illegal, two men literally walked off a cliff while hunting for wild Pokemon. It seems some people are just not listening to Niantic’s warning to “be aware of your surroundings” when playing Pokemon GO, and that has resulted in these unfortunate accidents.
Some individuals can’t seem to play Pokemon GO without putting themselves and others in danger, and so it’s possible that California’s move to make playing the game while driving illegal may not be the only Pokemon GO law that is introduced. If these incidents continue, it’s possible California and other places may outright ban Pokemon GO altogether, as some could argue that the game poses a threat to public safety when people play it irresponsibly. This is, of course, simply a worst case scenario.
Pokemon GO is available now for iOS and Android mobile devices.