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Pokemon Go Led To Increase In Traffic Deaths and Accidents, Says Study (arstechnica.com) 80

A new study from Purdue University uses detailed local traffic accident reports to suggest that Pokemon Go caused a marked increase in vehicle damages, injuries, and even deaths due to people playing the game while driving. Ars Technica reports: In the provocatively titled "Death by Pokemon Go" (which has been shared online but has yet to be peer-reviewed), Purdue professors Mara Faccio and John J. McConnell studied nearly 12,000 accident reports in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, in the months before and after Pokemon Go's July 6, 2016 launch. The authors then cross-referenced those reports with the locations of Pokestops in the county (where players visit frequently to obtain necessary in-game items) to determine whether the introduction of a Pokestop correlated with an increase in accident frequency, relative to intersections that didn't have them. While the incidence of traffic accidents increased across the county after Pokemon Go's introduction, that increase was a statistically significant 26.5 percent greater at intersections within 100 meters of a Pokestop, compared to those farther away. All told, across the county, the authors estimate 134 extra accidents occurred near Pokestops in the 148-day period immediately after the game came out, compared to the baseline where those Pokestops didn't exist. That adds up to nearly $500,000 in vehicle damage, 31 additional injuries, and two additional deaths across the county, based on extrapolation from the accident reports.

The study uses a regression model to account for potential confounding variables like school breaks and inclement weather, which could cause variation separate from Pokemon Go. The model also compares Pokestops to Pokegyms (where it was nearly impossible to play while driving) to account for the possibility that generally increased traffic to Pokemon Go locations was leading to more accidents, even among drivers who stopped and parked before playing. In all cases, though, being able to compare to intersections without a Pokestop and to the same dates the year before, helped provide natural control variables for the study.

Pokemon Go Led To Increase In Traffic Deaths and Accidents, Says Study

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  • .... at least some of the cases for pedestrians by using the camera in-game to watch the user as he plays, and measuring what percentage of the time the end user is looking at the screen while the device is in motion at low speeds (ie, walking). If the user is walking for more than a few seconds without looking away from the screen at all in that time, then the game would pause for a second, and a voice would firmly tell the player to watch where they are going, as well as a visible warning on the screen to accompany it. The game would then resume as normal. If a user doesn't give the app permission to access the camera, then it doesn't work at all while the user is moving, and should inform the user to that effect (probably at the startup screen).

    Yeah, the camera drains the battery faster, but it's just a friggen *game* for crying out loud.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm pretty sure the solution for that would be to hold the phone and the top of the steering wheel with the same hand and then it's easy to keep glancing at your phone while driving.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        Yeah. It wouldnâ(TM)t stop drivers from being dumb, because it wouldnâ(TM)t be able to tell the difference between a passenger and a driver, but it could still mitigate pedestrian accidents caused by them not being aware of their surroundings
    • You hatch eggs and get buddy pokemon candy while walking. I have it on during my 2 mile lunch walk. I would not have it on if I had to stare at the screen for the majority of my walk. If I did, I'd probably end my walk with a major headache and possible walking into a few pedestrians or cars.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        That's my point... the app would actively discourage people from constantly staring at the screen while walking. It would do nothing to stop people from playing while driving (because it cannot reasonably tell the difference between a passenger who should be allowed to play and driver who should not), but it's still better than nothing.
  • Life is dangerous. Not criticizing the study. I love the study but you need to consider how many hours people were playing Pokemon Go. If people in the USA spent 2% of their waking hours playing Pokemon Go then it might be safer than the typical alternative. If they spent 0.0002% then it would be a deadly game. Labrador retrievers send more children to the hospital every year than any other dog but it's because they are by far the most common dog to interact with children. My local school board changed the
  • Pokémon Go doesn't play by the same rules as Simon Says.
    • Christopher Dale Reimer, AKA CDREIMER, AKA CREIMER, has reactivated his "Cashews" accounts and is attempting to karma whore his way out of his -1 reputation!!

      MOD DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I get the paper has data (based on police reports) from 2015-2016 in Tippecanoe County, but how does the researcher apply this to the rest of the USA? Is Tippecanoe County somehow perfectly representative of the USA, as is Tippecanoe County typically used to study federal trends in traffic safety and fatality?
  • Seems that natural selection still works.

    Of course we could help nature along by hacking PMG so it only generates the really cool critters in the middle of the street.

  • Forget the Pokémons and give us a virtual Nurse Joy rated 18+!

  • society didn't end the survival of the fittest, it just modified it. Who would have guessed that Pokemon people are not the fittest! ;)

  • Now add up all the money lost to the economy from people playing video games and consider maybe Washington isn't to blame for all the country's problems. Usually it keeps the perpetrators off the streets so it's tolerated. Addictive as crack games can be.
    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      Also add up all the money lost to all other kinds of fun.

      Ban fun for the good of the economy! Everyone must be mindless and willless drones!

  • They seem to have anticipated and corrected for all the routine criticism. Seems like it is going to be approved for publication.
  • I probably said "What a f****** $random_bad_word_for_different_cars_stickers_plates_etc" a lot more than normal last summer for a few weeks. I saw people driving the wrong way on the road, stopping in the middle of the road, lots of swerving by oncoming traffic, some people walking in the road as if the it wasn't there, and people generally not paying attention more than normal. They had the town ticketing crew blocking one of the lake side train parking lots, and I had to move the cones to get out leading

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Who the fuck is old enough to have a driver's license and still cares about cartoon easter-egg hunts? It almost makes drink-driving look respectable.

    • Sadly, my 39-year-old wife. I've asked her, gently pleaded with her, etc., to put down her phone when she's driving and quit playing Pokemon. But it never fails. Any time she's driving, her phone is in her lap with Pokemon running. I've decided any time I'm in the car with her, I'm driving, or if I'm not, I'll point-blank tell her "please put that down so we don't crash." I haven't (yet) physically taken the phone out of her hands but have definitely been tempted to.

      I wish phone use while driving was a prim

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Sadly, my 39-year-old wife. I've asked her, gently pleaded with her, etc., to put down her phone when she's driving and quit playing Pokemon. But it never fails. Any time she's driving, her phone is in her lap with Pokemon running. I've decided any time I'm in the car with her, I'm driving, or if I'm not, I'll point-blank tell her "please put that down so we don't crash." I haven't (yet) physically taken the phone out of her hands but have definitely been tempted to.

        I wish phone use while driving was a prim

  • Natural selection wasn't working well for humans, so we had to help it a bit.

  • Wow two years late on that research... um, the craze has kinda died down now.
    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      People really should release their studies of phenomenons within the first few days of said phenomenon's occurrence.

      Unrelated, there's a Harry Potter AR game coming out from the same company as made Pokémon Go.

      • True they should of, It is super awkward the way they seem to finish their research long after the trends died down. *facepalms* wow, rip more people playing that harry potter game!
  • They are based on population density... but of course there will be more accidents in places where more people go more often.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I know at least one obese person who started going on regular walks because of this silly game and has kept up with the habit to this day.

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.

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