This App Has Supposedly Caused Over 100,000 Traffic Accidents in 16 Months
Pikachu, I choose you over safe driving!
In July of 2016, things were different. Man buns were still out, but the popular game app Pokémon GO was still in, leading millions of people across the globe on wild chases all over parks and office buildings. The augmented reality video game projected Pokémon GO on the user’s surroundings, which was neat and all, but proved to largely be a flash in the pan.
But 18 months after it’s initial launch, the once-popular app is still making waves, but not in a good way. A new study from Mara Faccio and John J. McConnell dug into the possible link between the game and a rise in distracted driving accidents since the app’s release in July 2016. The research, titled “Death by Pokémon GO,” although speculative, found that accident rates spiked by 26.5 percent within 100 meters of “Pokéstops,” which are checkpoints on the map where users could gather items.
The research pair used Tippecanoe County, Indiana, as its focus area for the study. First, they analyzed traffic data from a period before the app’s release (3/1/2015-11/30/16), then after the app’s release, and then expanded those trends to the nation at large to create their model. The study found that Tippecanoe County saw a spike of $500,000 in vehicle damage, 31 injuries, and two deaths which were attributable to using Pokémon GO and driving.
When scaled nationally, the research concluded that an “increase in crashes attributable to the introduction of Pokémon GO is 145,632 with an associated increase in the number of injuries of 29,370 and an associated increase in the number of fatalities of 256,” with economic losses projected at “$2 billion to $7.3 billion.”
As the number of daily active users decreased, the number of accidents, in turn, dipped. (This city is using optical illusion speedbumps to prevent traffic accidents.)