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CDOT Targets "Pokemon Go" Players, Other Distracted Drivers

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Friday, July 29, 2016   

DENVER - "Beware the Pokemon" signs went up along Colorado highways this week, warning motorists not to game and drive. It's part of the Colorado Department of Transportation's (C-DOT) Killer Habit campaign to reduce distracted driving in the state, which caused more than 15,000 accidents and 68 fatalities in 2015.

Sam Cole, safety communications manager for C-DOT, said while Pokemon may be a craze right now, the agency doesn't want people to go crazy.

"It's more or less an obsession with some people," he said. "We just hope they have enough common sense to put down the game when they're driving. We know that there was a police cruiser in Baltimore, Maryland, that was rear-ended by somebody who was on his phone playing Pokemon."

The augmented-reality game allows players to search for virtual creatures that appear on their smartphones superimposed onto real-life locations. There have been several media reports of Pokemon-related accidents, including some later revealed as hoaxes, but Cole said so far, no incidents have been reported in Colorado, and the C-DOT campaign aims to keep it that way.

A national survey by the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction found while 98 percent of respondents know distracted driving is dangerous, nearly 75 percent admit to having done it. Cole said from law enforcement reports, distracted drivers sound a lot like drunk drivers.

"The car is weaving along the roadway, speeds are erratic," he said. "And also, somebody's reaction time can be delayed, obviously, if they're distracted. When you're driving a vehicle, two-ton vehicle down the road, you have an enormous responsibility."

Cole said kicking a distracted-driving habit could save a life. C-DOT is challenging Coloradans to lock their phones away, starting with their next trip, and make it to their destination without touching it once.


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