‘Pokemon Go’ blamed for car accidents, traffic violations in Japan

TOKYO, Aug. 23 (UPI) — The skyrocketing popularity of the game Pokemon Go is giving rise to a new reality in Japan: a spike in automobile-related accidents.

Since its launch the augmented-reality game has been tied to an average of 2.5 traffic accidents daily, Japan’s Jiji Press reported on Tuesday.

Pokemon Go was released in the Japanese market on July 22. A month later, the game is being faulted for driver and pedestrian inattention in accidents involving cars, motorcycles and bicycles, according to Japan’s national police agency.

A total of 79 Pokemon Go-related accidents have been reported, according to authorities.

About 29 of the cases involved minor injuries, and there was one case of serious injury in Aichi prefecture, according to police.

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No deaths have been reported.

Traffic violations have also increased because of Pokemon Go gamers. A total of 1,140 cases have been reported, and 95 percent of those cases involved drivers playing the game while on the road.

Traffic violations include ignoring light signals and illegal parking. In the latter case, the driver would leave the car to hunt or battle Pokemon characters.

Despite the pitfalls of gaming, a handful of Japanese prefectures are hoping the game will lure visitors and revive local economies.

Japanese officials have said they are planning to resolve the details with U.S. game developer Niantic, which include proposals for developing tourist destinations as “Pokestops.”

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