One woman is dead and another is seriously injured after a reckless driver in Tokushima, Japan hits them with his vehicle while playing Niantic's Pokemon GO.
Despite losing 15 million daily users, Pokemon GO is probably still the most played video game in the world right now. However, the game's immense popularity has caused some problems, particularly when players play the game at inappropriate times. In the past, this has resulted in car accidents and serious injuries, and now Japan has even recorded its first fatality that can be directly tied to Niantic's mobile game.
According to authorities in the Japanese city of Tokushima, a 39 year old driver was playing Pokemon GO when he struck two female pedestrians. The women were transported to a nearby hospital, where one died from the injuries she sustained in the accident at age 72, and the other, age 60, is still currently receiving medical care. The driver was arrested after the incident, and that is when he told police that he was distracted from playing the game.
What makes this terrible event all the more tragic is that it was completely avoidable. Had the driver been paying attention to the road instead of playing Pokemon GO, he may not have hit the two women at all. Now that this has happened, though, it will be interesting to see if there are any consequences for the game developers.
To Niantic's credit, the studio makes it clear that people should not be playing Pokemon GO while driving. Besides the safety tips that appear when booting up the game, a recent update also added an additional feature in an attempt to stop people from playing the game while driving. Now whenever someone tries to play the game in a fast moving car, a popup appears that asks players to confirm that they aren't the driver before they are allowed to keep playing.
This is certainly a step in the right direction, but with multiple lawsuits aimed at Niantic because of Pokemon GO, the company may want to take more drastic measures with its safety precautions. Perhaps a future update for the game will make it impossible to play at all when going certain speeds, regardless of if one is a passenger in the vehicle or not. Of course, that's just speculation at this time, but with Niantic updating Pokemon GO on a regular basis, it is possible.
This should go without saying, but moving forward, people should really exercise common sense when playing Pokemon GO. As we've seen from multiple car accidents that have occurred due to people playing the game, like this one, one where a young girl was hit, and another where a man sideswiped a police car, the risk of causing serious harm to others is not worth catching whatever Pokemon has appeared in the wild.
Pokemon GO is available now for iOS and Android mobile devices.