Research Suggests That Pokemon Go Is Behind Hundreds of Traffic Deaths

Purdue University professors link people playing the game while driving to a marked increase in vehicular damage, injuries and death.

byKate Gibson| UPDATED Nov 30, 2017 6:02 PM
Research Suggests That Pokemon Go Is Behind Hundreds of Traffic Deaths

The increasing number of elderly motorists on the road was the main culprit in the larger number of U.S. traffic fatalities in 2016 from the prior year, while deaths blamed on distracted driving showed a year-over-year decline

Still, while fatalities in what the government calls "distraction-affected crashes" fell 2.2 percent from 2015 to 2016, there were still 3,450 deaths attributed to distractions, and a portion likely involved the Pokemon Go craze, suggests the findings of a recent study.

Conducted by Mara Faccio and John McConnell, professors at Purdue University's Krannert School of Management, the two linked motorists playing the game while behind the wheel to a notable hike in vehicular damage, injuries, and death.

The pair examined crash statistics in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, to determine whether more accidents occurred near a so-called "PokeStop," or location to catch a virtual Pokemon. The professors found an increase in accidents within 100 yards of the stops in looking at data from March 2015 through November 2016. After Pokemon Go was introduced in July 2016, the possibility of an accident rose 26.5 percent.

Overall, the researchers estimate 134 extra accidents occurred near Pokemon stops across the county during the 148 days after the game came onto the market, compared to the baseline where those stops did not exist. The study, which has not yet been through the peer review process, added up almost $500,000 in vehicle damage, 31 additional injuries and two additional deaths across the county.

Extrapolating the results to a nationwide level, which the researchers noted was speculative, they put the increases in crashes attributable to the introduction of Pokemon Go to 145,632, with an associated 29,370 injuries and 256 deaths in the 148 days after introduction of the game.