Game related crashes highlight need to update state laws
MADISON, Wisc. (July 19, 2016) — Pokémon Go has become one of the most popular app based games over the past few days. Those playing the game – identified as “Pokémon trainers” – can be found staring at their phones while walking along city streets throughout the U.S.; but there is danger if those “trainers” decide to play while behind the wheel.
“Trying to catch a Pokémon while behind the wheel is a major distraction and increases your risk of causing a crash,” said Nick Jarmusz, Wisconsin director of public affairs for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Put your phone down while driving. Just one quick text or glance to see the next Pokéstop could end up costing you or someone else their life.”
It is estimated at any given daylight hour there are 660,000 motorists using a cell phone while driving in the United States. Distracted driving killed 3,179 people and is responsible for 1 out of every 10 deaths on our nation’s roadways, according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
According to preliminary data from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, inattentive driving caused over 100 roadway fatalities in 2015, a 35% increase over the previous year. Over the past weekend the Dane County Sheriff’s Department confirmed two separate crashes were caused by drivers who admitted they were playing the Pokémon Go while driving.
“Playing games like ‘Pokémon Go’ while driving is a distraction just like sending or receiving a text while behind the wheel,” continued Jarmusz. “Unfortunately, it’s hard for law enforcement officers to crack down because the state statutes do not specifically address gaming or social media applications. Updating the law to address current smartphone capabilities would send a clear message that distracted driving is an unacceptable behavior.”
Drivers engaging in an activity such as texting can remain mentally distracted for up to 27 seconds. According to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, updating social media on your mobile device is just slightly less cognitively challenging than solving a complicated math problem while driving.
Here are AAA’s top five tips to avoid texting while driving:
1. Silence your cell phone and turn off the vibration mechanism: Airplane mode is a setting available on many mobile phones. When activated, it suspends many of the device’s signal transmitting functions, thereby disabling the phone’s capacity to place or receive calls or use text messaging.
2. Ask for help: Remind the people in your vehicle to be a good passenger and enlist their help. Ask your passengers to handle tasks such as texting, placing a call or re-programming your GPS.
3. Ask family, friends and colleagues to respect your commute: Set mobile boundaries and politely ask them not to contact you during the hours of your commute.
4. Place your phone in the glove compartment or trunk: The old adage, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ can be applied here. Wait until you’re at your destination or safely pull into a gas station or rest area to check messages.
5. Download a safety app: Get some technological help. Many mobile safety apps can help discourage texting while driving.
About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to over 9 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 56 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.
Article written and published by AAA.