New York driver crashes car into tree while playing Pokémon Go

Incident came hours after warning to put the game down while driving

A driver in New York state ran his car off the road and into a tree last night as a result of playing "Pokémon Go."

Police in Auburn, a town near Syracuse in upstate New York, were called to a traffic accident shortly before 11 p.m.

"The driver admitted to actively playing the Pokémon Go game while driving causing him to become distracted and run off the roadway into a tree," the police said in a statement.

The car was badly damaged in the accident and police say the driver is lucky he was not seriously injured.

"This is an example of how easily accidents can occur when someone is engaged in the game and not paying attention," the police said.

The accident came just hours after the National Safety Council implored drivers to put the game down when they are behind the wheel.

Referencing the thousands of accidents and deaths caused each year by distracted driving and thousands more accidents caused by distracted walking -- a term coined to mean those times when people are engrossed in their smartphones and not paying attention while walking -- the group reminded players to pay attention to the world around them.

The Auburn police said players need to use common sense when playing the game and remember a few short rules:

  • Do not use the application when you are operating a motor vehicle or bicycle
  • Do not trespass on private property when trying to "catch" a Pokémon
  • Be aware of your surroundings when walking and do not stare down at your phone not knowing hazards around you, like roadways, drop-offs, waterways, etc.
  • Use caution when sharing your location as strangers can see your location information
  • Travel in groups in public/well lit locations

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Martyn Williams

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