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Pokemon Gone mad?

People do all sorts of things while driving, even though busy roads are like navigating an obstacle course. Some even play Pokemon Go. Be honest: have you done any of these things while driving?

  • eating
  • texting
  • reading books
  • putting on makeup
  • picking up a CD from the floor
  • playing the guitar (seriously).

Who would play Pokemon Go while driving? It is an augmented reality (AR) game where people look for Pokemon monsters, but in a physical place. The game has more than 15 million players around the world. Unfortunately, some of these players are driving at the same time.

Already two people in Japan have died. One young Australian driver, more focused on monsters than motoring, crashed into a local school.

Too distracted

A US study analysed 110,000 posts on Twitter for words like “Pokemon”, “driving” and “car”, over 10 days in July 2016. Drivers were definitely distracted by the game and 14 car crashes were directly caused by playing Pokemon Go.

In Australia in 2016, an NRMA study with 1,126 primary school students aged 5-12 found 10% of them had already had a “near miss” with a car while playing Pokemon Go. Over two thirds of students also stated they felt safe, in spite of the potential dangers.

There have been no deaths in Australia linked to playing Pokemon Go. But motorists have been fined $325 and four demerit points for playing the game while driving. It could be argued this is hardly a sufficient deterrent.

Young people die

Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in Australia for young males. They cause 25% of deaths among all 15-24-year-olds – the target market for this game.

Young people already pay a disproportionately high price for their CTP green slip insurance. Playing Pokemon Go while driving worsens these tragic statistics and pushes up their green slip premiums even higher.

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