Driving while playing “Pokemon Go” may soon be illegal in California. According to the LA Times, the state Assembly on Tuesday sent a new bill proposal to Gov. Jerry Brown that would increase the ban on texting while driving to include other mobile phone activity, including playing “Pokemon Go”. This would also close a current loophole in the California law. In 2014, the California Court of Appeal ruled that the existing law only prohibits a driver from holding a wireless phone while talking on it.
The new bill would ban use of a handheld device in any way that would distract the driver, including but certainly not limited to “Pokemon Go”. According to Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), it’s “an important step in reducing distracted-driving accidents, injuries and deaths.”
“Pokemon Go” creators Niantic have included messages discouraging playing the game while driving since launch. Most recently they added a message that pops-up when a player is moving to fast, forcing the player to push the “I’m a passenger” button to keep playing.
Apparently, however, these features aren’t enough. The new proposal comes right after a week in which we saw two fatalities linked to driving while playing “Pokemon Go”. Both accidents occurred in Japan; the first involved a distracted driver hitting two pedestrians, and the second involved a distracted driver hitting a cyclist.