A new study published by two researchers from Purdue University has revealed that the total vehicular damages caused by Pokemon GO players who engaged the game while driving amounted from $2 billion to $7.3 billion in the United States over the period spanning the first 148 days following the title’s launch. In the Tippecanoe County in Indiana alone, which is the scope of the research, it was found that the overall cost of vehicular accidents due to the augmented reality (AR) game was between $5.2 million and $25.5 million during the same period.
Mara Faccio and John J. McConnell conducted the study using information from 12,000 police accident reports for Tippecanoe County, Indiana. Those incidents occurred over the period of March 1, 2015, through November 30, 2016. The researchers documented the rise in vehicular accidents and related damages and losses in the areas called PokeStops where the game was being played while trainers were driving. Also according to the study, the rise in crashes that can be attributed to Pokemon GO represents 47 percent of the increase in the overall vehicular accidents across the Tippecanoe County during the observed period. More specifically, 134 of 286 additional accidents that occurred in the county during the first 148 days since Pokemon GO was introduced took place in locations near PokeStops, with the amount of additional vehicular losses in the county amounting to $498,567.
While most of the vehicular accidents that happened near the PokeStops in the county were attributed by the researchers to drivers playing the AR game, the researchers also acknowledged the possibility that the increase in car accidents near PokeStops might have been caused by the growth in traffic in those areas. Other instances of accidents attributed to Pokemon GO also took place in other parts of the United States as the popularity of the mobile game soared over 2016, which meant many players including drivers were paying less attention to their surroundings while being glued to their mobile phones and searching for pocket monsters. For example, an 18-year-old pregnant Pokemon GO player from Missouri was struck by a van while playing the game in July of 2016. Around the same time, a man driving in Auburn, New York, nearly hit a tree and endangered both himself and other traffic participants.