According to accident reports and Twitter, playing Pokemon GO has led to distraction and at least some car crashes or near-crashes.
In the augmented reality game, players use their mobile devices to collect Pokemon cartoon characters in real world locations, which rewards moving around as much as possible. The game is disabled when you’re moving faster than 10 miles per hour.
Over a 10-day period in July of this year, John Ayers of San Diego State University in California and his colleagues collected a random sample of 4,000 tweets containing the terms “Pokemon” and “driving,” “drives,” “drive” or “car.” Each of the analyzed tweets was reviewed by four individuals and categorized.
They also identified reports of crashes caused by Pokemon GO according to Google News.
“We wanted to do rapid detection so we looked at what the public was saying in their own words on social media,” Ayers said.
About a third of the 4,000 tweets indicated that a driver, passenger or pedestrian was distracted by the game, for example, “omg I’m catching Pokemon and driving.” The researchers say this proportion translates to 113,993 incidence reports on the whole of Twitter during the 10-day period.
They found that 33 per cent of the tweets indicated that a driver, passenger or pedestrian was distracted by the game. Eighteen per cent of the tweets showed that a person was actually behind the wheel of a vehicle and four per cent indicated that a pedestrian was distracted while walking, such as “almost got hit by a car playing Pokemon GO.
They also found that there were 14 accidents attributed to Pokemon GO during the same period.
This may not come as a surprise to some: during that month many police forces across both Canada and the U.S. were urging people not to play the game while driving. In Baltimore, one police cruiser dash cam captured a driver playing the game crashing into a parked police car.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those 16 to 24 years old, the main demographic of this game. And, the authors note that, according to the American Automobile Association, 59 per cent of all crashes occur as a result of distractions within six seconds of the accident.
Many have praised Pokemon GO for encouraging physical activity, but the target audience of the game, 15- to 24-year-olds, aren’t necessarily dying from weight-related issues like diabetes, Ayers said. The leading cause of death for young adults is motor vehicle crashes.
New West Physicians encourages everyone to put the phone down and stay safe!
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