Pokemon Go has been causing an influx in vehicle accidents.
“Based on detailed police accident reports for Tippecanoe County, Indiana, and using the introduction of the virtual reality game Pokémon GO as a natural experiment, we document a disproportionate increase in vehicular crashes and associated vehicular damage, personal injuries, and fatalities in the vicinity of locations, called PokéStops, where users can play the game while driving. The results are robust to using points of play, called Gyms, that cannot be used to play the game while driving as a placebo. We estimate the total incremental county-wide cost of users playing Pokémon GO while driving, including the value of the two incremental human lives lost, to be in the range of $5.2 million to $25.5 million over only the 148 days following the introduction of the game. Extrapolation of these estimates to nation-wide levels yields a total ranging from $2 to $7.3 billion for the same period.”
Researchers at Purdue University combed through nearly 12,000 police reports for traffic accidents in Tippecanoe County, Indiana — where Purdue is located. After controlling for traffic, Purdue’s schedule of academic breaks and other variables, here’s what they found:
- In the first few months after Pokemon Go was released, there were more auto accidents in locations that become home to “PokeStops.”
- The county experienced an overall increase in car crashes in the first few months after Pokemon Go was released; the authors attribute 47% of that jump to the app.
- “The county would have experienced two fewer traffic fatalities had Pokémon GO not been introduced,” the study says. It also attributes roughly 31 injuries and $500,000 in vehicular damage to the game.
- If you tried to extrapolate the study’s findings nationwide, Pokemon Go would be on the hook for roughly 145,000 crashes, 30,000 injuries and 256 deaths, the authors said, though they acknowledge that extrapolation is “speculative.”