Checkpoint catches players

By ILONA HANNE

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Gotta catch 'em all?

If Pokémon Go has caught you, then you aren't alone. With plenty of sightings of the pocket monsters around Stratford, players (or Pokémon trainers as they prefer to be called) are out and about trying to catch the creatures.

A safety checkpoint in Stratford on Thursday night possibly caught as many Pokémon trainers as it caught drivers breaking the rules.

Road policing manager Senior Sergeant Robbie O'Keefe says police operating the checkpoint on Broadway "did comment amongst ourselves that there seemed to be a lot of people with their mobile phones around the Clocktower, so wondered if they were playing Pokémon Go".

Pokémon trainers weren't the reason the police were out checking drivers on Thursday night however, he says.

"Preventing accidents and saving lives is paramount, and our focus is on detection 'anywhere, anytime' to remove disqualified, dangerous, drunk or drugged drivers and unsafe vehicles from our roads."

During the checkpoint police stopped 175 cars, issuing four infringement notices for people who had breached their learner or restricted licence conditions.

In addition, a man in his 40s blew 537 on a breath test and a man in his 60s also tested positive for breath alcohol but elected to have blood taken, says Mr O'Keefe.

He adds, "and thankfully, no one got into strife in relation to the Pokémon Go game".

Police do have a serious message for players of the popular game, he adds.

"We encourage people to have fun with this game, however don't let your pursuit of the virtual game get you into strife in real life.

"We'd like players of the new Pokémon Go game to watch out for real-world hazards while using their phones to hunt Pokémon around our communities, and hope that no one does it while driving," he says.

"Also be wary that you don't step into the road without looking and watch out for others - particularly if they've got their noses buried in their phones. It pays to be aware of what's happening around you; and respect other people and their property."

The police aren't the only ones asking people to be aware when playing the game.

Safekids Aotearoa has also issued some tips for kids hunting the monsters:

- Follow the rules. Remember that the Pokémon universe and ours are mashed together, and rules apply to reality and the app. If you are cycling to a Pokéstop or Pokémon gym for a battle, always wear a helmet. When crossing the road, use a zebra crossing and look out for cars. When the area is off limits or closed, do not enter it.

- Hunt in a safe Pokémon habitat. We know it's hard to ignore Pokémon that live around buildings, roads and train stations, however it's safer to take the kids to public parks and beaches for a hunt.

- Heads up, devices down when walking and crossing the road. Yes Pokémon can spawn anywhere and anytime - and if you're not paying attention, an obstacle or a car may appear out of thin air too! Put the phone down and always be aware of the environment.

- Be a good role model. Teach kids to respect others while they play Pokémon Go.

- Adult supervision. You may not be able to tell the difference between a Blastoise and a Butterfree, but adults must still pay attention to children at play. Every child has a different understanding of risks, danger and road safety - most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars.

- Stratford Press

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