AAA: Don’t Pokémon Go and drive

Credit: Drew Angerer

Credit: Drew Angerer

The new game Pokémon Go has turned smartphone users into virtual Pokémon trainers, but there are a few real-world responsibilities Ash Ketchum doesn't have. Most notably, the 10-year-old character in the Pokémon franchise doesn't drive.

Distracted driving is not a new phenomenon, but AAA on Tuesday warned drivers against the newest distraction in their pocket.

“Trying to catch a Pokémon while behind the wheel is a major distraction and increases your risk of causing a crash,” AAA Georgia spokesman Garrett Townsend said. “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.”

Estimates from a market intelligence firm called Sensor Tower indicate Pokémon Go has already been downloaded 7.5 million times in the United States — and it’s only been out for six days.

Meanwhile, distracted driving is responsible for one out of every 10 traffic-related fatalities. There were 1,427 roadway deaths in Georgia last year, and the state is expected to exceed 1,400 deaths by the end of 2016 as well.

AAA public policy manager Karen Morgan said playing Pokémon Go is “just like sending or receiving a text while behind the wheel.”

“Texting and driving is a primary offense in Georgia,” she said. “Penalties and fines are assessed for those that violate this law.”