From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Road Safety
Pokemon Don't GO
By Noel Gibbons
13, Jul 2016 - 21:06

Road safety professionals issue a warning to road users: Don't play Pokémon Go and drive.

The viral sensation released this month has players staring at their phones catching and training Pokémon creatures.

"Pokémon" (which translates to "pocket monster") first took America by storm as a card game in the late 1990s and is exploding into the national consciousness again. It is a nostalgia trip and wish fulfillment for the generation of 20-to-30-somethings who grew up with the game and a new challenge for younger players.

The latest version uses a phone's sensors, camera and GPS technology to create a sort of augmented reality that allows players to catch and train Pokémon in the real world. Unlike most video games, "Pokémon Go" encourages or even requires players to walk and explore the outdoors.

The game is becoming so popular that it was on the verge of overtaking Twitter on Monday in terms of active users, and had already overtaken the popular dating app Tinder.

But the game poses safety hazards on the roadways -- for drivers and people walking on the streets, one road safety officer warns.

"This new, all-consuming Pokémon Go craze has caught the entire country by surprise, and as such we are concerned about the consequences playing this game can have on road safety," said Road safety officer with Mayo County Council Noel Gibbons in a statement.

"What is meant to be a fun game can have tragic real-world consequences if you're playing it while driving or crossing the street,you need to focus on your task 100% if driving or crossing the street/road " Gibbons continued.

"Simply put, catching virtual creatures to get to the next level is not worth risking your life or the lives of others."

Ireland has increased enforcement and punishment for distracted driving, particularly texting behind the wheel.

A texting-while-driving infraction carries five points on a license. Young drivers -- those with probationary and junior licenses -- could face a 120-day suspension for a first offense and can lose their license for one year if a second offense is committed within six months.

Motorists caught texting and driving face up to a fine, the state noted.

You are four times more likely to have a crash when you're using a mobile phone. Not only is it dangerous, but it's against the law - you could be fined up to €2,000.

Unless you're phoning 999, don't use your mobile when you drive.

Here's what's illegal behind the wheel according to the road safety office

Holding a portable electronic device.
Talking on a handheld mobile telephone.
Composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving electronic data such as e-mail, text messages, or websites.
Viewing, taking, or transmitting images.
Playing games.

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