‘Don’t Pokémon and drive,’ warn police

Seen any drivers playing Pokémon Go? The police are promising to ‘catch ‘em all’

‘Don’t Pokémon and drive,’ warn police

WE can spot them a mile away: the car that’s moving erratically and the driver absorbed in sending a text message as we pull alongside. Only it’s a long time since text messages were the only distraction offered by smartphones.

Police are warning motorists not to play Pokémon Go and drive, less than a week after the launch of the Smartphone game, in which players hunt for virtual monsters in the real world using the phone’s camera and GPS.

Making a pun on one of the monsters’ names, Thames Valley Police took to Twitter yesterday to warn: ‘Don't let us catch a peek-of-you catching a Pikachu whilst driving.’

Richmond Police in south-west London seized the chance for a pun with both hands in a Twitter warning against playing while driving as well as the risk of theft in the street.

The force said: ‘Always be aware of your surroundings. That Pikachu will not expect you to run in the road, and Squirtle won't want you to swim in the Thames.

‘Don't be a Drowzee and walk around with your head in a daze - always be aware of people who may be watching you to steal your phone or Charmander.

‘Don't Pokémon and drive. That egg won't hatch if you're driving. Remember it's onyx-acceptable and if you're caught - you risk a £100 fine and 3 points on your licence.’

The force sent the Tweet with the hashtag '#CatchEmAll', another reference to the game.

Similar warnings have been issued by police in the US, where there have already been reports of injuries including a man driving into a tree while playing the game, according to USA today.

Motoring groups say there is a real threat to road safety posed by playing the game at the wheel, which has already acquired its own Twitter hashtag: '#DontPokémonAndDrive'

RAC spokesman Pete Williams said: "The Pokémon Go revolution could take the illegal use of hand-held mobile phones at the wheel to another level.

"It has to be ‘Pokémon no-Go’ when driving but it is just as important that pedestrians don’t get caught in the Pokémon mist and find themselves stepping into the path of danger.

"It is critical that drivers are not tempted to have the app running on their mobile phone when driving."

Lucy Amos, spokeswoman for the road safety charity Brake, said: “The temptation for people to reach for their phone whilst driving or crossing the road is ever increasing, and only encouraged by interactive games like Pokémon Go that are now available to the public.”

Used car firm HPL Motors called it the ‘the ultimate driving distraction’.

The firm said research showed one in five people admitted using a hand-held phone to make calls or text while driving, adding: ‘Whilst these statistics on their own may be worrying, concerns over pedestrian and driver safety have been heightened following the launch of the highly popular Pokémon Go game across the world.’

In a statement on the UK release of the game, maker Niantic said: 'We take player safety seriously and want everybody to have a fantastic time exploring while safely playing Pokémon Go. We encourage all people to be aware of their surroundings and to play with friends or family, especially when you’re exploring unfamiliar places. Please remember to be safe and alert at all times, don’t drive and play, abide by local laws, and respect the locations you visit and people you meet during your exploration.'