Driver gets 30 months for traffic death caused by playing ‘Pokemon Go’

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A man received 30 months in prison Thursday for causing the death of a woman in Kasugai, Aichi Prefecture, last August while playing “Pokemon Go” as he was driving.

The Nagoya District Court ruled that 27-year-old Yusuke Okuyama from Toki in neighboring Gifu Prefecture was using his smartphone when his car hit a 29-year-old Vietnamese cyclist who was using a pedestrian crossing. She died two weeks later.

Citing evidence showing that Okuyama’s car crossed into the opposite lane, Judge Satoko Shotokuji said that although he was not touching the smartphone screen at the time of the accident, “his attention was evidently directed to a smartphone rather than driving.”

According to the ruling and other sources, Okuyama hit the woman while trying to plug a charging cord into his smartphone. The Aug. 11 accident was the second fatality in Japan since was the popular augmented reality game was released the previous month.

A number of traffic accidents have occurred since the game’s release. The game encourages players to visit locations in search of virtual creatures that appear superimposed on smartphone screens, a feature critics say leads to many people paying insufficient attention to their surroundings.

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