BURNABY, BC, Canada – British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) urges parents to take vigilant steps to keep kids safe around roads when playing the popular augmented reality mobile game, Pokémon Go, after reports of some serious consequences around the world.
“Chasing Pokémon can be fun and exciting but not worth risking your life for,” says Shawn Pettipas, manager, community impact at BCAA. “I can’t stress enough how dangerous it is for kids to play this game on and around roads, particularly unaccompanied.” He advises parents to use the game as an opportunity to remind their children about the rules of the road and how important it is to always balance fun with safety.
A Kids Safe Canada study shows that children aged 5 to 14 years are at the greatest risk for pedestrian-related injuries and fatalities. According to the BC Coroners Service, over 2,400 child pedestrians are seriously injured and approximately 30 are killed each year in Canada. Distraction can be a big factor, with a University of Alabama study using a virtual environment revealing that kids distracted by cell phones while crossing the street:
• were one-third more likely to be hit or nearly hit by a car;
• took 20 percent longer to begin crossing the street;
• looked both ways 20 percent fewer times before crossing the street;
• gave themselves 8 percent less time to cross safely in front of oncoming traffic.
BCAA’s safety tips for parents
• Before letting kids play, try downloading the game yourself. Get familiar with it and understand not only the fun but also the risks.
• Advise kids to play in groups – have a safety conscious spotter.
• Ensure younger kids always play with a parent or responsible adult.
• Use Pokémon Go as a reason to discuss road safety.
BCAA also urges drivers to take precautions and watch for players
Slow down and watch out for kids – if a kid (or adult!) is near the road with a mobile device they may be distracted. Lock eyes. Be alert. Honk if you need to.
Expect the unexpected – such as kids darting out from between parked cars. Always check for pedestrians when you’re backing up, and be aware that kids could be present on any side of the vehicle.
“We realize that kids are going to play this game and we want them to have fun but we also want them to stay safe. We all play a role in road safety and this is a good opportunity for parents to discuss safety and lead by example,” Pettipas says.