When the popular gaming app Pokémon Go was first released in 2016, the headlines quickly filled with stories of accidents caused by the game’s users. The first fatality attributed to Pokémon Go occurred only one month after the game’s release when a distracted driver fatally injured one woman and seriously injured another. Now researchers at Purdue University have confirmed that car accident rates at the game’s virtual locations are higher than average.
Pokémon Go uses the GPS function of a mobile device to track and capture virtual Pokémon. The augmented reality game uses a game map based on the player’s own geographical location. The Pokémon characters only appear when the user arrives at the same real-world location where the Pokémon have been situated on the game map. Other features on the map for players to visit include PokeStops and Pokémon gyms, which are located at places of interest.
Researchers from the Krannert School of Management were investigating a theory that the advent of smartphone apps may be linked to increases in car accidents. From 2011 to 2015, the total number of vehicular crashes in the United States rose by approximately one million to over six million.
The Purdue study focused only on the Pokémon Go app and used county provided accident reports from March 2015 to November 2016. The reports contained data about the location of the crashes, as well as causes, injury and fatality numbers, and estimated value of damages. The researchers then looked at PokeStop locations to examine how the accident rates near the stops corresponded with county data.
Pokémon Go was released in July 2016, and the study finds a significant increase in the crash rate near PokeStops after July 2016, compared to the rate beforehand. An estimated 47 percent of the increase in crashes across the county were attributed to people playing Pokémon Go. In economic terms, the incremental vehicular damage totaled almost half a million dollars. In terms of incremental injuries and estimated loss of lifetime income, the game had an impact on the county of $988, 621. The research suggests that there were two preventable fatalities that stemmed from use of the game.
The Purdue study covered only the data from one county. Applying their findings to the rest of the U.S., the researchers estimate that across the country, an increase of 145,632 crashes could be linked to playing Pokémon Go. The total cost of damages, including medical costs and vehicular damage, could be between $2 billion and $7.3 billion.
After numerous reports of accidents, the game’s developer introduced a safety measure that detects the use of the phone while driving. The player then receives a warning that playing while driving is unsafe and must confirm they are a passenger in the vehicle before they can continue play. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to warn of the dangers of distracted driving of all types.
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by distracted driving, the dedicated car accident lawyers in York County at Chappell, Smith & Arden can help you recover compensation for your injuries. Call 800-531-9780 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We have multiple locations throughout South Carolina for your convenience, serving clients in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the counties of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.