AICHI (TR) – Niantic, developer of smartphone game Pokemon Go, was requested to disable their game for drivers and keep Pokemon characters and Pokestop locations off the road after a trucker struck and killed a child last month, police here said on Friday.
Letters were sent to the U.S. headquarters of Niantic on Wednesday and to its Japan branch on Friday under the name of the Aichi Prefectural Police chief, requesting the company to implement safety measures like disabling gameplay when drivers are behind the wheel and keeping Pokemon characters off the roads, the Asahi Shimbun reports (Nov. 4).
Keita Noritake, 9, who police said in the letter had “a bright future ahead” of him, was struck and killed by a truck driver who was playing Pokemon Go behind the wheel last month on October 26 at around 4 p.m. in Aichi Prefecture.
The truck driver was quoted by police as admitting he “was driving while playing Pokemon Go.”
A spokesman for Niantic told NHK that the company “expresses its most sincere condolences for the lost loved ones and the grieving families. The request will be handled seriously and safety will be taken into consideration.”
Analysts say the explosive popularity of Pokemon Go has peaked and started to flatten out, but incidents continue to be reported in Japan involving drivers playing behind the wheel.
A tour bus driver in Osaka was filmed playing Pokemon Go last month while driving in a video widely circulated online. The operator of the bus apologized and banned its drivers from using smartphones in the driver’s seat.