Accidents caused by playing Pokemon Go and how to avoid them

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You can get an automatic fixed penalty notice if you're caught using a hand-held phone while driving. (image: CC0 Public Domain)

Earlier this month, Pokemon GO was finally released in the Philippines. Old and new fans of the lore seem to be enjoying the latest augmented reality (AR) game as they visit places and do something that most have never done before – embark on a journey of endless walking.

However, we should ask one important question that some try to ignore: are we having too much fun that we become unmindful of the obvious dangers ahead?

For a safer and more positive gaming experience, we have gathered some of the accidents from “carelessly” playing Pokemon Go, and provided ways to avoid them.

  1. You might get into a traffic accident.

In Japan, a 21-year old company worker/ Pokemon trainer recklessly drove into a line of cars stopped at a red light. It was reported that the PokeGo player and the drivers of the vehicles sustained minor neck injuries.

Don’t catch (pokemons) and drive. The game even recently updated the application to display a notice on the screen if you’re going too fast. Unless you are a passenger, never play Pokemon Go inside a moving vehicle.

  1. Bicycles can be the most convenient ride while hunting pokemons but it’s not the safest.

According to reports, an elementary school student was cycling while playing Pokemon Go. His attention was on his phone’s screen the whole time until he crashed into another bicycle. Fortunately, both of the cyclists only suffered minor injuries.

If you have to check your screen for possible pokemon sighting, you should find a safe place to park. Just like driving a car, bicycling while playing could lead to a more serious accident not only to yourself but to other people.

  1. You might get lost.

The game works under a GPS mapping which keeps track of the player’s movement. Dedicated trainers would even walk long distances just to check every corner of the street for monsters. It’s a fun exercise but what if you are in another country or a city that you are not so familiar with?

A 24-year old Brazilian tourist in Japan learned his navigation lessons the hard way when he wandered off and ended on an expressway while searching for pokemons. Luckily, local police saw him and helped him find his way home.

If you are a foreigner, make sure that you have a physical map of the area in case your phone (with a helpful GPS) battery runs low. It is better to join a party or invite someone who knows the place to go pokemon hunting with you.

  1. You could get assaulted.

One case of an “accident” that happened while hunting for pokemons was reported in Japan when a woman was allegedly assaulted by a stranger.

The attacker said that he grabbed the woman’s arm because he thought that he had been photographed and he just wanted to delete the photo. It turned out that the Pokemon Go player just wanted to take a photo of a rare virtual monster she found nearby.

You should be aware of other people and respect their personal space, especially those who do not have full knowledge of how the game works. If you really need to invade that space (for a rare pokemon, of course!) it’s always safer to ask for permission or let strangers know what you’re doing.

  1. You might get your first traffic ticket.

One country has been issuing traffic tickets to Pokemon Go players who were caught playing while driving. The game is still in its early stages in the Philippines but it’s possible that such violations will be more common in the coming days.

The police have been issuing traffic tickets to people caught playing the game while driving, an obvious violation of the traffic law.

Don’t play and drive.

  1. You could run into actual wild animals instead of cute virtual monsters.

In Japan, a university student got the shock of his gaming life when he encountered a wild animal while pokemon hunting in the dark.

The student identified the wild creature as a brown bear, but the absence of paw prints made the police conclude that it might have been a deer.

Avoid catching pokemons in isolated areas and make sure you have a knowledge of wildlife presence before venturing out at night, in a forest.

  1. You might fall down the stairs.

One tweeter update got the attention of other game enthusiasts when the user reported how he fell down the stairs when he panicked and tried to chase a pokemon. His carelessness resulted in a “face covered with blood.”

Just like what the game says before you start playing: “remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings.”

  1. You might be violating other people’s privacy

Some homes of people were turned into PokeStops. Other stops include landmarks such as commercial buildings, historical sites and public murals. Players usually gather in these areas to collect items they need to hunt and battle with other pokemons. However, some home owners complain that there are players who knowingly or maybe unknowingly trespass private property.

Avoid trespassing and respect the homeowner’s privacy. It’s better to find a public place for a PokeStop like coffee shops and restaurants.

  1. You might get robbed.

One feature of the game is to use Lure Modules that lets a player attract wild pokemons. In addition, the module benefits other players, too. However, bad people have a way of using such opportunity to “lure” innocent and oblivious players into a trap.

One mugging incident in the U.S. happened when teens lured players to a secluded PokeStop and robbed them.

It’s not a good idea to catch Pokemons at night but if you find it more convenient than daytime hunting, you must have someone with you. Above all, avoid going to secluded areas, and ignore shady lure module locations.

  1. Are you physically fit to play the game?

This isn’t actually an accident but one must make sure that he/she is physically ready to play the game since catching and hunting for pokemons cover hundreds of kilometers. How the game works resulted to a lot of complaints about sore and cramped leg muscles.

Wear comfortable shoes and make sure to do some stretching before embarking on your “journey”.

  1. You might suffer from heat stroke.

Pokemon hunting requires a lot of energy and for a tropical country like the Philippines, humidity has always caused serious problem especially to people who are usually outside during the day. A similar situation might be tricky for Pokemon Go players particularly for those who willingly walk long distances under the sun.

Drink lots of water or bring your supply of snacks and energy drink.