Odessa man volunteers to drive new Pokémon trainers

Odessa man volunteers to drive new Pokémon trainers

ODESSA, TX (KWES) - The new mobile game Pokemon Go is still fresh on a lot of people's minds. The game allows you to catch virtual creatures in real life.

Some players have started to try and catch them all, while driving.

An Odessa man said a passenger's seat is the only place where you should be if you're catching pokemon in a moving vehicle. He says, he's willing to drive you.

While driving home after work Joe Lawrence noticed other drivers playing the game.

"I honestly saw people holding their phone and doing that [swiping up and down] on it. It looked like they were completely zoned in on it and it just seemed really dangerous," said Lawrence.

Lawrence said he volunteered himself to drive the new Pokemon trainers around Odessa.

You can book Lawrence for an hour at a time and it'll cost you $15. He said he isn't trying to make a profit, just keep roads safe and re-imburse himself for gas and wear and tear on his vehicle.

"It's definitely a little load off the other drivers in the city if they don't have to worry about people playing pokemon while they drive," said Lawrence. 
The City of Odessa has not addressed the game and the hazards of playing.

Odessa police said they haven't arrested anyone because of Pokemon Go, but it has caused an increase in calls for suspicious people.

"We are required to respond to every single call from dispatch including those Pokemon calls," said Cpl. Steve LeSueur with the Odessa Police Department. "They get called out as suspicious person calls, we respond, just let us know what you're doing and we'll be on our way."

Trespassing has not been an issue, but Odessa police say you can be arrested.

Matthew Price decided to hire Lawrence after swerving on the road because of playing Pokemon Go while driving. He said the paying a little has been worth it.

"I can be on my phone, not worried about the surroundings. Just pokemoning it up," said Price.

Lawrence is busy with his new job, but wants everyone to be safe. "If you're playing Pokemon, don't drive. Hire a driver," said Lawrence.

The city of Odessa's legal department said drivers specifically for the purpose of playing Pokemon Go is not a traditional operation.  They will need to investigate further if any kind of permit is required.

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