Study: Pokemon Go Craze May Have Caused Over 100,000 Extra Crashes
This is it, people—we’ve reached it.
We have hit peak Millennial.
Two professors from Perdue University have conducted a study that estimates that the people playing the Pokémon GO phone game while driving have caused more than 100,000 crashes.
…well, sort of. The study itself was on traffic data in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, and somewhat jocularly titled “Death by Pokémon Go,” although the study was intended to be more about distracted driving, and its possible connection to the increase in traffic fatalities since 2011.
The researchers, Mara Faccio and John J. McConnell, took the novel approach of cross-referencing accident data to the county’s “Pokéstops,” to see if there was any meaningful change. Of course, there was—using data from between March 1st, 2015 and November 30th, 2016, they found that if you were driving within 100 meters of a Pokéstop, you were 26.5% more likely to be in a car crash.
Specifically, the researchers related $500,000 in damage, 31 injuries, and two deaths to people playing the phone game while driving. Then, when the number of active players dropped as the craze died down, so did the number of traffic accidents.
So, the question becomes, where did that 100,000-crash number come from? The researchers speculatively scaled the crash data up to nationwide, and concluded that, statistically speaking, the excitement around Pokémon Go probably increased the number of crashes by 145,632 collisions in five months.
The study could be used to inform policy regarding cell phone use behind the wheel, although it seems like it would be a difficult stretch to say that Tippecanoe County, Indiana, is representative of the nation as a whole. Either way, it’s probably safe to say that it’s good that Pokémon Go started introducing measures to block drivers from playing the game.