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Just how dangerous is Pokemon Go for motorists?

In recognition of the danger posed by distracted driving, lawmakers here in North Carolina have passed a series of laws designed to keep motorists safe on the roads and highways. Indeed, it is illegal for both bus drivers and novice drivers (i.e., those under 18) to use a cell phone in any capacity, and illegal for all drivers to either send or read texts or emails while behind the wheel.

Given this relatively stringent stance on distracted driving and everything else we know about this dangerous practice, one would think that it would naturally lead to more drivers keeping their phones off or, at the very least, well out of reach. Statistics, however, show that this isn't necessarily happening.

A closer look at the data shows that distracted driving fatalities increased by over 10 percent from 2014 to 2015 here in the Tar Heel State, while distracted driving was a factor in at least 21.7 percent of crashes in 2014, although the actual number could be higher given that it's self-reported.

Given this sobering reality, both law enforcement and traffic safety advocates are understandably anxious about the arrival of a new cell phone-related phenomenon that has already demonstrated a great capacity for distracting motorists.

The phenomenon in question is called Pokémon Go, which is essentially an app that revolves around players finding animated creatures in real world locations via their cell phone. While the app does disable certain features when the user is traveling over 20 miles-per-hour, stories are now filtering in from across the U.S. about motorists getting into crashes while playing.

"Folks aren't paying attention, they're just in their phones, they're just not paying attention as they're trying to find that next creature," said an official with AAA Carolinas of the engrossing game.

As disturbing as all this is, some solace can be found in the fact that the popularity of the game has created a burgeoning industry that will maybe make the roads a bit safer: Pokemon Go chauffeur services. Indeed, motorists can hire a driver to shuttle them around while they play the game.

It will certainly be interesting to see if the enthusiasm for this game -- and its associated dangers -- starts to wane in the coming months …  

In the meantime, if you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one because of the reckless actions of another motorist, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options. 

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