Pokémon Go poses a threat to Alaska drivers and pedestrians

In early July, a mobile game launched that quickly spread throughout Alaska and around the globe. Pokémon Go invites users to try to "catch" Pokémon, which can be virtually placed just about anywhere. People playing the game can use their phones or other devices equipped with a camera to "see" where these Pokémon are.

Skyrocketing in popularity, one unfortunate effect of the game is that it can distract people from focusing on activities such as walking and driving. A recent report by KTVA Alaska illustrates these dangers and offers advice for how users can remain safe.

The problem

In just weeks after the game's release, reports of accidents tied to Pokémon Go flooded the airwaves. Distracted motorists are concentrating on their phone's screen instead of the road, and pedestrians fail to watch where they are going.

Additionally, there are problems specific to Alaska. For example, the Turnagain Arm Trail is one checkpoint for the game because of its trails and bike paths. However, KTVA reports that the trail was recently closed after officials learned that a bear had killed a moose. A spokesperson for the Alaska Police Department told the news station that playing Pokémon Go and engaging in other distractions could mean running into potentially dangerous wildlife.

Remaining safe

The game has widely been lauded for its ability to get people outside and moving. In order to play Pokémon Go safely, users are encouraged to do the following:

  • Avoid playing while driving
  • Play in controlled areas, taking care to have awareness of the surroundings
  • Respect boundaries, such as private homes

There are also businesses and public buildings that have requested not to take part in the game out of respect for the building's contents or workers.

Alaska laws

Drivers especially must remember that there are state laws in place that prohibit activities such as playing Pokémon Go while behind the wheel. Under Alaska statutes, no one is permitted to drive while operating a screen device. Violating this law is considered a class A misdemeanor, though if the distraction leads to injury or a fatal accident, it is possible that felony charges could be brought against the driver.

If a serious accident does occur, Alaska law also enables victims to file a claim against a driver for damages. There is a two-year statute of limitations on these claims, which means someone must initiate the lawsuit within two years of the date of the incident.

Distracted driving is a serious issue with serious consequences. Anyone who has questions about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in Alaska.