Just How Much Distracted Driving Damage Does Pokémon Go Cause?

Distracted driving is a major cause of crashes in ColoradoIn July of 2016, a video game was released that would change the way people played with their smartphones. Pokémon Go was an instant sensation, allowing players to catch pocket monsters in augmented reality (AR). This combination of virtual characters and real surroundings delighted millions as they set out on adventures to “collect them all,” but this game turned out to be more dangerous than many anticipated. Now, a new study is trying to tally the distracted driving damage caused by Pokémon Go, and the results are astonishing.

How Destructive Was Pokémon Go Distracted Driving Damage?

Researchers Mara Faccio and John J. McConnell of the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University noticed a corresponding trend between the increasing rate of smartphone app downloads and the number of car crashes in the country. This led the duo to examine this trend, but the variety of factors involved made it hard to come to any conclusions. So, the researchers decided to look at the effects of a specific app—Pokémon Go—on a specific geographical area—Tippecanoe County, Indiana.

They looked at almost 12,000 police reports filed between March 1, 2015 and November 30, 2016 and made some disturbing discoveries. Pokémon Go may have contributed to a 47 percent spike in traffic incidents in Tippecanoe County. During the first 148 days after Pokémon Go’s release, 134 out of 286 additional crashes occurred near PokeStops causing around $498,567 worth of damages. When combined with the claims of bodily injuries and estimated lifetime income loss, that county-wide total increased to $988,621.

What Damage Did the Nation Sustain from Pokémon Go?

To further illustrate their point, Faccio and McConnell used their data to extrapolate what effect Pokémon Go had on traffic collisions across the country. They estimated that that the mobile game may have contributed to an extra 145,632 crashes, 27,370 injuries, and 256 fatalities nationwide. And what was the total cost of these incidents? Somewhere between $2 billion and $7.3 billion.

Though this data is only an estimate based on a sample case in Indiana, it is plain to see what the results say about distracted driving crashes all across the country. Here in Colorado, we face an ever-increasing traffic fatality problem, and the authorities believe that mobile devices could be at the center of these spikes. That makes it even more important for Coloradoans to get help if they are faced with a catastrophic traffic collision.



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