‘Death by Pokémon Go’: Study finds that driving while playing likely cost billions in car damage, injuries

Pokémon Go

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The great thing about the mobile game Pokémon Go is that it gets people on their feet, walking around, helping small businesses, and being entertained during a pandemic. The bad thing about the game is that it was found to result in increased traffic collisions as people attempted to play while driving.

According to a paper published by Mara Faccio and John J. McConnell from Purdue University — titled “Death by Pokémon Go: The Economic and Human Cost of Using Apps While Driving” — there was a “disproportionate increase” in collisions near PokéStops in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, which is where the study was conducted.

Faccio and McConnell first cited data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that found vehicular fatality crashes in the US started increasing in 2011 after a steady 25-year decline. Circumstantially, the two reasoned, this was due to the increase in smartphone apps.

And while some people struggle not to text and drive, Pokémon Go has a particularly alluring premise while moving: It’s a geo-location-based augmented reality game where, using their phone cameras and the game’s geo-location features, players can hunt for virtual Pokémon in real time in their area. It’s wildly popular.

“The game was introduced on July 6, 2016,” Faccio and McConnell wrote. “Within one month, worldwide, the game was downloaded more than 100 million times.

“For our purposes, the virtue of this app is that the stockpile of a user’s ‘weapons’ used to play the game can be replenished in the vicinity of specific well-identified ‘PokéStops,’ many of which are located near public thoroughfares.”

The two reasoned that if players were driving while playing, then the probability of crashes near PokéStops would go up since the game’s introduction.

After examining about 12,000 police accident reports in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, between March 1, 2015 to November 30, 2016, the study found a “disproportionate increase in crashes near PokéStops from before to after July 6, 2016. In the aggregate, these crashes are associated with increases in the dollar amount of vehicular damage, the number of personal injuries, and the number of fatalities.”

“Specifically, a difference-in-differences analysis indicates that 134 incremental crashes that occurred at locations in the proximity of PokéStops over the 148 days following the introduction of the game can be attributed to the introduction of Pokémon Go,” the study went on. 

“This incremental increase in crashes accounts for 47% of the increase in the total number of county-wide crashes. Based on the assessments of damage in the police reports, this increase in crashes in the vicinity of PokéStops results in $498,567 of incremental vehicular damage, or 22% of the increase in the total dollar amount of vehicular damage experienced county-wide over the 148 days following the introduction of the game.”

Those 134 incremental crashes resulted in 31 incremental personal injuries near the PokéStops, according to the study.

Based on those findings, Faccio and McConnell concluded that users playing Pokémon Go near the PokéStops and getting into collisions incurred county-wide costs of at least $5.2 million, with the …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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