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A Japanese farmer was playing Pokemon Go while driving and struck two women, killing one of them and seriously injuring the other in the country’s first ever fatality related to the phenomenal blockbuster smartphone game.
The authorities in Japan, home to Niantic – the maker of Pokemon Go had been concerned about the potential for accidents on roads and on public transportation systems due to the game. Those fears materialized Tuesday night when Keiji Goo, a 39-year-old farmer, was playing the game while driving his small truck in Tokushima prefecture on the island of Shikoku.
According to CNN, the police said the driver told them he was not paying attention and had been preoccupied by Pokemon Go. One of the victims, a woman in her early 70s died of a spinal injury after being hit and the other woman was hospitalized with a severe injury. “I was playing Pokémon Go while driving, so I didn’t really see what was in front of me,” the public broadcaster NHK quoted the driver as telling police when he was arrested.
Several governments have voiced out concerns about the popular game, warning players to steer clear of sensitive areas and military bases. There have been numerous accidents relating to Pokemon Go around the globe since its release last month, which includes a man who crashed into a tree in New York and an Australian man who drove into a school building while playing the game. Recently, two people walked off an oceanside cliff in California in search of Pokemon while someone hit a parked police car because he was reportedly distracted by the game.
This soon prompted the game developer to add a warning earlier this month not to play the game while driving and the app detects when a player is moving too rapidly, sending another notice to check that the person is really not driving and is a passenger, but we know people “cheat” the system by being dishonest.
Since the game was released in July, public spaces in many parts of the world have been filled with players pursuing these virtual monsters on their phones. Many heritage sites and sensitive locations have banned people from playing the game on their grounds.
Another update is that the game has included a change in the scanning technology for finding Pokemon, that made it less likely Pokemon would appear for players roaming in a car rather than on foot. Official statistics according to The Washington Post show that police gave out 1,140 tickets for traffic violations involving Pokemon Go in the month since the game was released in Japan, 95 percent of them playing while driving.
There had been 79 bicycle and car accidents linked to playing the game as well, the National Police Agency statistics indicated.