The Pokémon Go craze is going strong in Colorado. And as a preemptive measure, the Colorado Department of Transportation recently posted digital road signs across the state urging drivers to: “BEWARE THE POKEMON! DON’T GAME AND DRIVE!”
Ann Butler, writing for The Durango Herald, quotes CDOT spokesman Sam Cole about the digital message:
It came about probably 10 days ago when we received some concern from a citizen about Pokémon Go. It’s been picking up steam by the day, and people are starting to get obsessed by it.
Gaming Out and About
Pokémon Go is an augmented reality mobile app game designed to encourage people to get more exercise as they play video games. The app overlays little monsters on mobile phone screens so they appear to be in the actual environment.
The object of the game is to acquire Pokéballs at real-world locations to be used to capture the monsters. In one part of the game, people are encouraged to collect virtual eggs, which “hatch” into new game characters only when a game player has walked a certain distance. News reports say that people are having mishaps and accidents — like falling into ditches — while playing the game. One Colorado player tweeted:
Current situation: Stuck in traffic in Old Colorado City because of people crossing the street playing Pokémon Go
— Alex Schultz (@aaschultzy) July 17, 2016
Cole said he got the idea for the mobile signs because he thought that some drivers might be playing the game while driving, Jason Auslander wrote in The Aspen Times. He had heard that Pokémon Go can be played while driving very slowly.
No Pokémon Wrecks in Colorado Yet
Although Cole did not know of any Pokémon-related traffic accidents in Colorado, there have been some reported in other states. One was in Baltimore, where a driver who admitted he was playing Pokémon Go crashed into a police car.
Colorado State Patrol Capt. Adrian Driscoll said none of the troopers in his area have seen any drivers who appear to be playing the game. Trooper Josh Lewis said this holds true across the state, but might be because it would be hard to see a driver’s cellphone screen from another vehicle.
Lewis told Butler that the same statue that covers texting while driving covers playing Pokémon Go while driving. “If you take your eyes off the road, stop paying attention, it’s just a recipe for disaster,” Lewis said.
Colorado Texting Law
Colorado’s texting while driving law bans drivers under age 18 from using cell phones in any way. Also, House Bill 09-1094, 2009) bans all drivers from texting, e-mailing and tweeting while driving. The law allows cell phones to be used in emergencies.
Regarding the digital signage on roads, Cole said:
We haven’t decided if we’ll run it [the Pokémon Go sign] again. There are so many types of distractions, and we don’t want to make Pokémon Go seem like a bigger driving distraction than it is.