Toronto cops recently posted a video on YouTube showing an incident where one of its helicopters spent 10 minutes tracking a guy “driving suspiciously” around a neighborhood in the small hours. Judging by the footage, “suspiciously” means tootling along at a snail’s pace, and stopping and starting the vehicle for no apparent reason.
While cops probably initially thought they were dealing with a driver who’d sunk one too many beers that evening, the truth was revealed when an officer on the ground pulled the driver over to find out exactly what was going on.
After an exchange that lasted about 40 seconds, the start of which may well have involved the driver telling the cop, “Just hang on a minute, I really need to catch this Pokémon,” the officer radioed in that, yes, the man behind the wheel of the erratically driven car had indeed been playing the globally successful augmented-reality smartphone game that is Pokémon Go.
The police department that stopped the driver said on YouTube it wanted to “remind members of the public and players that any distraction while driving or walking on or near roadways can be hazardous.” The game, if you didn’t already know, involves exploring the real world to catch virtual monsters, among other activities.
The distracted driver in this particular case was pretty lucky, receiving nothing more than a “stern warning” from the authorities.
The outcome may have been different if he was in Japan. There, the police have so far handed out hundreds of tickets to people playing the game while driving. Cops in Taiwan have also been busy pulling over drivers for the same reason.
Aware of the issue, Pokémon Go‘s creator recently incorporated a warning into the game that it hopes will encourage drivers to look at the road ahead instead of at their smartphone screen.