Pop culture fads come and go; as soon as one leaves, another comes in to replace it. Not long ago, the latest teen sensation was Pokémon Go, a digital, interactive game that merges reality with a virtual world. Players were challenged to ‘find’ Pokémon creatures located in actual geographic locations – many of them known as ‘Pokestops’. On the surface, the game seems harmless, and it generally is. However, irresponsible behaviors while playing Pokémon Go have led to serious consequences.
First and foremost, it is worth noting that the creators of Pokémon Go caution users to remain alert of their surroundings at all times. That being said, there is a certain degree of personal responsibility and not all players are following this sage advice. If your teen plays this game, be aware that it involves walking to specific locations – often in dangerous places your teen might not otherwise venture into on foot. This summer, a teenager blamed Pokémon Go for leading her across a four-lane highway, where she was ultimately struck by a vehicle. Even if your teen does not play the popular game, it is worth encouraging him or her to be more aware of pedestrian behavior, especially in places where young people tend to congregate or near known Pokestops.
Distracted driving is one of the top causes of teen collisions in the U.S. While texting often gets the brunt of the blame, games like Pokémon Go can also create distractions in the car. Just this summer, a teenage driver was playing the game while operating a vehicle. Police body cameras caught footage of the teen driver sideswiping a police cruiser while playing the game. In another incident the same month, a driver ran off the road and collided with a tree as a result of being distracted by the game.
Distracted driving is a serious issue, whether it is caused by Pokémon Go or another source. Distractions played a role in 10 percent of all fatal crashes involving drivers ages 15 to 19. Examples of common distractions include:
- Texting or talking on a phone
- Using a smartphone to surf the web
- Using a smartphone to play a game or stream media
- Talking with passengers
- Adjusting the radio or navigation system
What You Can Do to Protect Your Teen Driver
Start by encouraging your teen to take the pledge never to drive distracted. Make sure your young driver understands the dangers and consequences of distracted driving:
Teens caught driving distracted could receive demerit points if they do so while in possession of a probationary license. In addition, the terms of the probationary license may be extended by another 6 months.
Teens will need to pay a fine if they receive a ticket for using a phone while driving. In addition, distracted driving citations can cause changes in the cost of car insurance for teens depending on the insurer.
Most importantly, ensure your teen understands the risk of real-life consequences caused by distracted driving. Too many young drivers lose their lives every year as a result of distracted driving.