Pokemon Go Caused an Increase in Traffic Deaths and Accidents

A new study has reported that Pokemon Go caused an increase in road traffic deaths and accidents, with more incidents occurring around PokeStops around the launch of the hugely popular mobile game back in 2016.

The study, titled “Death by Pokemon Go,” has yet to be peer reviewed but has been making the rounds online.  It saw professors Mara Faccio and John J. McConnell study 12,000 accident reports in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, which had taken place both before and after the game’s launch on July 6, 2016.

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With the game revolving around players traveling to different locations in the real world in order to catch Pokemon, traffic accidents increased across the entire US following its launch, but the study determined that they increased a further 26.5% when close to the proximity of a PokeStop. PokeStops are areas that contain valuable items for players and are typically located at landmarks, meaning most players have to travel out to them. The study suggests that many who were doing so were playing Pokemon Go while driving, thus leading to an increase in accidents near their locations.

According to the study, an additional 134 accidents took place across the 148-day period following the game’s launch, with an extrapolation of the accident reports pointing to around $500,000 in vehicular damage, 31 injuries and two deaths. The increase in accidents was comparable with Pokemon Go‘s player numbers, peaking at the time when it had the most active players and declining alongside its decrease in popularity.

Niantic display warnings telling players to not catch Pokemon while driving, with an update to the game asking them to confirm they’re a passenger if they’re travelling in a fast-moving vehicle. However, it’s obviously impossible for Niantic to determine whether or not players are telling the truth in their responses, meaning that playing Pokemon Go responsibly is a decision left up to the player. It seems that throughout the latter half of last year, many didn’t take Niantic’s advice and were left to pay the price.

(H/T Ars Technica)