NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York state is warning people about the dangers of playing Pokemon Go while driving or even walking.
The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles said Tuesday that it’s worried about “tragic real-world consequences” if someone plays the popular smartphone game while behind the wheel or crossing an intersection.
“This new, all-consuming Pokemon GO craze has caught the entire country by surprise and as such we are concerned about the consequences playing this game can have on public safety,” DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner and GTSC Acting Chair Terri Egan said in a statement. “Simply put, catching virtual creatures to get to the next level is not worth risking your life or the lives of others.”
New York state already prohibits smartphone use while driving. Tuesday’s safety warning was prompted by the surging popularity of the game.
Driving officials aren’t the only ones concerned about the safety of distracted Pokemon players. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority sent a tweet to its 350,000 followers reminding riders to stand behind the yellow line while playing in the subway.
Users playing the “augmented reality” game roam through the physical world searching for virtual Pokemon creatures to catch.
To play, users fire up the game and then start trekking to prominent local landmarks and other spots represented in the game as “Pokestops” where players can gather supplies such as Pokeballs. Those are what you fling at online “pocket monsters,” or Pokemon, to capture them for training.
At other locations called “gyms” Pokemon battle one another for supremacy.
Naturally, the game has also induced people to post pictures of themselves on social media chasing creatures in all sorts of dangerous situations. Zubats and Paras have appeared on car dashboards. Caterpies have been spotted at intersections.
Players have also reported wiping out in a variety of ways as they wander the real world, eyes glued to their smartphone screens, in search of digital monsters. Twisted ankles, mishaps with revolving doors and walking into trees have been among the painful results.
The game does have one failsafe — you can’t hatch digital eggs while driving. That requires slower in-person movement in the real world.
Meanwhile, Suffolk County officials are calling on the company that makes the game to prohibit sex offenders from registering accounts.
“Children can be led in to areas that are unfamiliar to them under the guise of simple innocent play,” said County Executive Steve Bellone.
Since there have also been cases of people being robbed while using the game, Police Commissioner Tim Sini said young children should not be using the app without parental supervision.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)