Pokémon Go Players are Everywhere. Here's How to Avoid Hitting "Pokéstrians"

Do you know what Pokémon Go is? If not, then maybe you've been living under a rock for the past month. OR, maybe you just despise pop culture (and if so, we'd probably be good friends). But otherwise, you have likely heard some rumblings about Pokémon Go, the latest augmented-reality mobile phone game sweeping the nation.

For those of you who actually have actual lives and responsibilities to tend to, and/or prefer living in the real world, here's a quick breakdown of how Pokémon Go works.

What Is Pokémon Go?

We'll make this quick, because you probably don't care.  In Pokémon Go, players select their own avatar and walk around a virtual world that is based on their current location. As they travel in the real world -- with their eyes glued to their phone screens -- their avatar follows the game's map.

Their ultimate goal is to "catch" Pokémon characters by throwing "Pokéballs" at them. Players can get free Pokéballs by finding "Pokéstops." Their other option is to waste their hard-earned money and buy the Pokéballs through in-app purchases. Are you bored yet? Okay good, we'll stop there!

What Kind of Good Things Happen When You Walk Around Aimlessly With Your Eyes Glued to Your Phone? 

Not many! Players are finding dead bodies. Others are getting robbed. Some are getting murdered. And a whole lot of other people are getting hit by cars, trucks and buses. While viral videos of people smacking into street signs may be funny, people walking around with their eyes glued to their phones is no laughing matter. According to Injury Facts 2015, distracted walking incidents involving cell phones accounted for more than 11,100 injuries between 2000 and 2011.

Moreover, a recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that pedestrian fatalities are on the rise. And, according to the report, “petextrians” – people who text while walking, may be partly to blame. Pokémon Go players are essentially an extension of petextrians. Should we call them... ahem... Pokéstrians? Uh oh, I think we just did! 

So without further ado, here's how drivers can help decrease the likelihood of being involved in a collision with a Pokéstrian:

  • Get Prepared – Before leaving, clean your windshield, windows and mirrors, and check mirror settings to maximize your field of view. Know your route and anticipate where you will encounter the most pedestrian -- excuse us, "Pokéstrian" -- activity. Make sure you have plenty of rest (or coffee, if need be) before your trip.
  • Remain Vigilant – Although intersections are high risk areas for distracted Pokéstrians, keep an eye out in heavily congested areas, in parking lots, while driving on streets lined with parked cars and when backing up. These little Pokémon characters are hidden in the strangest of places, so if you're anywhere behind the wheel, assume a Pokéstrian can, and will, pop out at any moment. 
  • Keep Your Eyes Moving – Look at least 15 seconds ahead, and scan from side to side to help spot the Pokéstrians approaching the roadway. While all people on foot deserve your attention, those using hand-held devices and/or wearing headphones can be most problematic. Watch for clues to their intended actions.
  • Yield the Right of Way – When you see a Pokéstrian, put aside the urge to scream at them and/or run them over. Instead, slow down and be prepared to give way. Make eye contact and ensure the Pokéstrian takes action that acknowledges your presence (i.e., stops, waves, etc.). If they don’t, this could be a sign that they may be paying more attention to their game than the traffic. Exercise caution! 
  • Approach Intersections With Care – Distracted walkers are more likely to ignore traffic lights or neglect to look both ways before crossing the road. Headphones can also make pedestrians oblivious to the sounds of danger. Look several times before turning as Pokéstrians are easy to miss when they’re in your blind spots.
  • Be Especially Mindful of Teenagers – Most of the Pokéstrians are teens, and many teens fail to understand the importance of putting devices down when crossing the street. As a result, older teens now account for half of all pedestrian deaths among children 19 and under.
  • Consider Driving Conditions – Poor weather conditions and lighting can diminish your ability to see. Use extra caution and reduce your speed in bad weather and at nighttime. Doing so will help give you an extra margin of safety should a Pokéstrian step into your path of travel.

Good luck out there drivers! If you have any tips we may have missed, please let us know on our Facebook or Twitter pages. Otherwise, thanks for reading and be sure to follow the OOD Blog!

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