Earlier this month, the mobile app ‘Pokemon Go’ was released and has recently passed 15 million downloads worldwide, having more active users than other popular apps like Twitter and Tinder. Pokemon Go allows users to catch, train and battle the famous monsters in the real world on their phones or mobile devices. With this phenomena, however, has come a risk of dangerous activity in people’s quests to become Pokemon Masters. Police have already issued warnings about remaining alert while driving or crossing roads and there have been reports of minor road accidents and risk taking behaviour along major roads and highways by app users.
While everyone should be free to enjoy this new game, and be able to use their phones while out in public, the road and traffic laws must be kept in mind at all times for the safety of all. Under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Road Rules) Regulation 2009, it is prohibited for a driver to operate a mobile phone held in their hand while their vehicle is moving or stationary without being parked. Operating a phone includes using its apps, not just making calls and texting, and if you are caught you could be fined up to $2,200. The same penalty applies to visual display units, such as iPads and other tablets. A driver must not drive their vehicle where these devices are on and visible, or would otherwise be distracting to the driver.
More importantly, inattention by drivers on the roads can cause catastrophic damage or injury to property, other road users and to the driver themselves. The most serious driving offence under the Criminal Code is dangerous operation of a vehicle, which carries a maximum fine of $22,000 or 3 years imprisonment. But, if death or grievous bodily harm is caused by the dangerous driving, the potential punishment can be up to 10 years imprisonment, or even 14 years where the driver was excessively speeding.
Pedestrians must also keep their wits about them, as many road rules also apply to them. As well as many rules relating to use of level crossings, traffic lights and other areas, pedestrians must not cause traffic hazards or obstructions to drivers on the road, or they will face a fine of up to $2,200. So when on the footpath, you should think twice before going after the Pokestop across the road.
It is important for drivers, pedestrians and all road users to keep these and other laws and the wellbeing of others in mind when on our roads. That way we can all stay safe while we catch ‘em all.
If you have a traffic or criminal matter and need legal advice, please contact our office and arrange to speak to one of our solicitors.