WARNING: Mackay Northern Beaches police are warning drivers they’ll face hefty fines for chasing Pokemon while behind the wheel.
WARNING: Mackay Northern Beaches police are warning drivers they’ll face hefty fines for chasing Pokemon while behind the wheel. Contributed

OPINION: Catch Pokemon within the law

EVERY day since I have returned to work from leave, I have made a vow not to write about or discuss the new craze of Pokemon Go.

There has been so much noise on this topic already, what could I possibly contribute that would add to the discussions?

Then I was contacted by a divisional officer in charge yesterday and asked to address a road safety concern on this exact topic - we did that through our police blog. I was then involved in a discussion with a senior officer where serious concerns were raised because of the actions of a small percentage of participants in the Pokemon craze.

Before I touch on them, for those of you who don't fully understand how the new Pokemon game works… it's a free app game which can be downloaded to a smart device.

If you will excuse my non-expert description, I personally see it as something like a real world scavenger hunt.

Participants use their smart device to search the real world and locate "characters" that assist them in progressing through the game.

These characters can be located almost anywhere - unique characters are on offer after dark. I'm told you can even involve yourself in a virtual "battle" with other participants to gain possession of their characters also.

Good on the game designers for coming up with an idea to enable participants to be actively mobile while they play.

However, using your smart device to search for characters while you drive fits squarely into the Fatal 5 road safety campaign of distractions.

You will receive no warnings from officers who locate you driving in this fashion.

So far, in the quest for new characters in the game, participants across the state have been drawn to police establishments, courts, transit centres, public amenities, universities and other public critical infrastructures.

Reports are also being received of participants entering private yards to search for characters or reach another location for the same purpose.

Mackay Police are encouraging game participants not to lose awareness of their surroundings - private grounds and business complexes should be respected always.

You may find yourself in a legal quagmire if you enter some areas without appropriate permission.

A strong message for parents - with the incentive for characters in the game to be found in the hours of darkness, please supervise your young children when they are attempting to do so in public places.

There is no substitute for your physical presence in this situation.

Get out there and enjoy yourselves, find as many characters as you can.

For this weekend though, pack your raincoat and umbrella.

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