Researchers at Indiana’s Purdue University have published the study that implicates augmented reality games like Pokemon Go in rising numbers of traffic deaths.
While the study is titled “Death by Pokemon Go,” researchers Mara Faccio and John J. McConnell looked at broader data gathered between March 2015 and December 2016 that pointed to distracted driving as a contributor to that rise.
They cited data that showed traffic deaths went down between 1988 and 2011, but then began to rise again, a trend that seems to coincide with the popularity of smartphones and the various other devices that keep us tethered to our online lives at all times.
What the study wanted to find out was whether the locations of collisions and vehicle-related incidents coincided with the locations of “Pokestops” in Indiana’s Tippecanoe County. It hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet, but the study attributes a half-million dollars in damage, 31 injuries, and two deaths to the game’s craze.
The research also indicates that traffic incidents went down in the months after the game’s introduction, coinciding with the period during which people got tired of the game and stopped playing it.
In extrapolating data to a nation-wide scale, the American researchers suggest Pokemon Go may have caused more than 145,000 crashes and led to more than 29,000 injuries and 256 deaths. The economic costs associated with those events are estimated at anywhere between $2 billion and $7.3 billion.
More recently, the company behind Pokemon Go has made it more difficult to play while in a car and, with any luck, research like this will lead to policy and legislation that put tighter restrictions on the use of phones in cars.
(via ARS Technica)