Pokemon Go may have led to more than 250 traffic fatalities

Rumors that Pokemon Go led to an increase in traffic accidents have been proven true by a recent study.

When Pokemon Go, an augmented reality game that people can download onto their smartphones, was released in July 2016 it led to an almost instantaneous craze for people wandering towns and cities in search of Pokemon. While that craze has died down quite a bit since then, there were quite a few rumors at the time and afterwards that peoples' addiction to the game may have been behind a number of motor vehicle accidents. Now, as Ars Technica reports, researchers at Purdue University have completed a study that suggests that Pokemon Go may be linked to hundreds of thousands of accidents across the country.

Accidents in Tippecanoe County

To determine whether the rumors that Pokemon Go was responsible for more car accidents were true, researchers analyzed data from approximately 12,000 accident reports in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. They then compared where accidents occurred to where PokeStops in the Pokemon Go game were located. In the augmented reality of the Pokemon Go game, players can visit real-life locations called PokeStops to refill on in-game supplies. The researchers found that intersections located within 100 meters of a PokeStop saw a 26.5 percent increase in accidents within 148 days of the app's release.

Extrapolating that data and applying it to the entire country, researchers then speculated that Pokemon Go may have caused close to 150,000 additional motor vehicle accidents. In total, those 150,000 accidents may have led to over 250 deaths, 29,000 injuries, and economic damages of between $2 billion and $7.3 billion.

New light on the distracted driving problem

While Pokemon Go may not be as popular as it was in 2016, the study is important for understanding the broader distracted driving problem. That's because most studies into distracted driving tend to focus on texting and driving or on talking on a mobile phone while driving. This study, however, demonstrates just how big of a role apps may also be playing in the distracted driving crisis.

As the New Scientist points out, since 2011 traffic fatalities have been increasing at a rapid rate. While mobile phones and texting were widely available prior to 2011, apps on the other hand had only become widespread around that time. The implication is that while texting and driving and talking on a phone while driving are certainly dangerous activities, apps may present an underappreciated aspect of the overall distracted driving problem.

Hurt in a car accident?

The risk of being hurt in an accident caused by a distracted driver is on the rise. Anybody who has been hurt in a motor vehicle accident needs to talk to an attorney right away. Many so-called accidents are in fact entirely preventable and are caused by another driver's negligence or recklessness. A personal injury attorney can help the victims of such accidents pursue financial compensatio n that may be available to them, especially in cases where the other driver may have been at fault.