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Is Pokémon Go a Distracted Driving Crisis?

Pokmon Go is a free-to-play location based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic and published by The Pokmon Company as part of the Pokmon franchise. A man driving while playing Pokemon Go

In July of 2016, Pokemon Go was released to an eager audience. Fans were able to catch pocket monsters through their mobile phones using an augmented reality (AR) app. This led many gamers to get off the couch and go outside, but there was a drawback. Some people used this mobile phone app while driving their vehicles, causing massive amounts of damage in distracted driving crashes. But just how much damage did these distracted drivers cause? A new study may have some long-awaited answers to this question.

The Distracted Driving Crisis and Pokemon Go

In 2015, there were over 6 million automobile crashes in the U.S., that’s around 1 million more crashes than what was seen in 2011. Mara Faccio and John J. McConnell, researchers at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management believe this increase is due to a rise in mobile app downloads. However, outside factors made it particularly difficult to test such a wide-sweeping hypothesis, so the researchers chose to do a more focused study.

They reviewed 12,000 accident reports from Tippecanoe County police between March 1, 2015 and November 30, 2016. From that data they were able to determine that Pokemon Go had potentially caused a 47 percent increase in traffic accidents after it was released.

The researchers found that out of the 286 additional crashes they logged, 134 happened near Pokestops, where groups of players would gather to get in-game items and bonuses. Faccio and McConnell were not able to say if the crashes were directly caused by people playing the game or by increased traffic in those areas, but in either case, it would seem that Pokemon Go had a role to play.

When the researchers applied their findings in Tippecanoe County to the rest of the country, they estimated that somewhere between $2 billion and $7.3 billion worth of damage had been caused by Pokemon Go distracted driving incidents. This is why it is critical for drivers to pay attention to the road and not their phones when out on the open road. The automobile accident attorneys at Mary Alexander & Associates want you to be aware of this danger, and if you or a loved one fall victim to this type of driving negligence, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

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