Pokémon Go has been keeping a lot of people very busy since its launch last month, and we’re not just talking about gamers.
Numerous reports from around the world suggest law enforcement, too, have been kept on their toes by the game, with cops apparently spending quite a bit of time issuing tickets to Pokémon Go addicts hunting for digital monsters while in control (or not-very-in-control) of a moving vehicle.
We’ve long known that looking at a smartphone display while hurtling along a highway can soon lead you to hurtling off a highway – this video proves it – but the possibility of a visit to the hospital (or worse) hasn’t stopped some fans of the massively popular smartphone game from cranking up the app while behind the wheel.
Concerned about the worrying habit, the game’s creator, Niantic, has just rolled out an update (iOS / Android) that “adds a dialog to remind Trainers that they should not play while traveling above a certain speed.”
So from now on, if the game detects that you’re in a rapidly moving vehicle, you’ll be presented with a pop-up message saying, “You’re going too fast! Pokémon Go should not be played while driving.” Beneath the message you’ll see a button asking you to confirm that you’re a passenger.
Of course, a dishonest driver can simply hit the “I’m a passenger” button (perhaps it should be a little bigger to make it easier to press while motoring along at 60 mph), but short of having someone from Niantic sitting in the back of the car to check, the pop-up is unlikely to have any effect on the most determined players.
Recent reports out of Japan and Taiwan suggest traffic cops have been handing out hundreds of tickets to people caught playing Pokémon Go while driving. In Australia a driver recently crashed into a school while playing the game, while a Baltimore player-driver crashed into a cop car, making the job of ticketing the offender a piece of cake for the cop.
Monday’s update is thought to be Niantic’s second attempt at making the game harder to play while inside a car. An earlier tweak to Pokémon Go reportedly reduced the game’s scan refresh rate while also limiting the scan radius. This was supposed to make it harder for anyone in a fast-moving vehicle to spot nearby Pokémon Go gameplay opportunities, though the latest update suggests Niantic feels it still has work to do.