For all the innocent fun it provides, Pokémon GO has plenty of dangers associated with it. The nature of the game encourages you to look down at your phone rather than up at the real world. It also encourages you to go places you wouldn’t – not inherently a bad thing, but watch where you’re going, okay?
Pokémon GO has also been cited as the catalyst for a number of traffic accidents, ranging from the humorous to the fatal. While humans using their brains might realize that the only time you should be playing Pokémon in a car is when you’re in the passenger seat, that doesn’t occur to everyone. Now, Pokémon GO developer Niantic Labs is taking measures to mitigate the problem.
Move faster than 30 MPH and Pokémon GO stops spawning Pokémon.
The game had previously been updated to prompt someone playing in a car to indicate whether they’re a passenger or a driver, but it turned out to be about as effective as age gates on websites. With the newest update to the application, traveling over 30 MPH will put an immediate stop to Pokémon spawning, regardless of which seat you’re occupying in the car.
This seems like somewhat of a half-measure. It can be fun to play Pokémon GO while you’re riding along in someone’s car, but there’s no way to tell if the person playing should be keeping their eyes on the road instead. While this will keep those dangerous players off of highways and freeways, there are plenty of places where 30 or 35 MPH are the posted speed limit, and we’ll end up with a situation somewhat like the opposite of the movie Speed. Instead of driving over 50 MPH to keep a bomb from blowing up, they’ll be focusing on keeping their speedometers at 29 MPH to keep Pokémon spawning. And 29 MPH is still plenty fast to end up in a fatal accident.
There’s no word yet on how this affects owners of the more attention-friendly Pokémon GO Plus bracelet that allows you to catch Pokémon without taking out your phone.