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Pokemon d-oh! Vancouver police ticket driver playing game on tablet

Augmented reality behind the wheel? Not 'in line with road safety': Vancouver police

Vancouver police motorcycle officers pull over a local driver on Nov. 11, 2017 — after seeing him allegedly playing the augmented reality video game Pokemon Go on a full-size iPad tablet behind the wheel. He received a $368  distracted driving ticket.

Courtesy Vancouver Police Department

Vancouver police motorcycle officers pull over a local driver on Nov. 11, 2017 — after seeing him allegedly playing the augmented reality video game Pokemon Go on a full-size iPad tablet behind the wheel. He received a $368 distracted driving ticket.

Keeping your eyes out for a rare Rowlet, your hand upon the Weedle?

Not so fast catching those Pokemon, say Vancouver police — who fined a man $368 for playing Pokemon Go while driving Saturday.

Two motorbike unit officers caught the alleged driver on Remembrance Day only to get dragged into a discussion with the man over whether or not playing a full-tablet sized version of an interactive video game constituted "distracted driving."

"They looked over when stopped at red light and saw a driver allegedly with a full-sized iPad … in his hand actively playing Pokemon Go," said Vancouver Police Department spokesman Const. Jason Doucette at a press conference Tuesday. "There was some discussion back and forth between our officers and the driver.

"I'm not sure his ideas were in line with road safety."

Sixteen months after the GPS-based augmented reality video game launched to worldwide hype in 2016, now nearing one billion downloads, police continue to be vexed by some of the unsafe practices of some players. The game prompts users moving at high speeds to only play if they're a passenger, not a driver, but there's no other measure to prevent driving under Pokemon's influence.

Not only did the Vancouver man net a whopping ticket for using an electronic device while driving — which is illegal even at stop lights or traffic jams — but he also got an earful of advice, Doucette said.

"We did have to make several follow up recommendations," he noted. "It wasn't appropriate even to have the active device on the passenger side of his vehicle — with the game and the coins still spinning."

As the department noted in a tweet about the incident on Monday, "While playing #PokemonGo may be fun, it's not worth risking your life or the lives of others."

This fall, the VPD launched a month-long distracted driving blitz, handing out 2,000 tickets in 30 days. And while Doucette admitted he's "not sure there's an increasing problem" with video games or electronic devices overall, they definitely pose a safety hazard as one of the leading causes of accidents in B.C.

"If you have family member or you yourself have a temptation to use an electronic device," Doucette said, "it's not safe. Put it down."

In other words, augmented-reality drivers: time to Poke-stop.

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