‘Pokemon Go’ Is A Major Distraction For Drivers According To A New Study


If you’ve ever played Pokemon Go while riding in a car, you know that the game has some safeguards in place to combat you playing while you’re driving. The game will hit you with a pop up that checks your speed and forces you to confirm that you’re a passenger. But that hasn’t stopped many from still playing while they’re behind the wheel and a new study at San Diego University used social media and stories in the news to confirm it.


There has certainly been no shortage of weird stories to come out following the release of the game on mobile platforms, with dead bodies and accidents making headlines for players looking for pocket monsters. That’s where the study searched for the meat of its data according to NBC News:

John Ayers of San Diego State University and colleagues combed through social media posts on Twitter and looked at news stories for evidence of people having accidents while driving and playing the immensely popular game during a 10-day stretch soon after its release — July 10-19.

“There were 14 unique crashes — one player drove his car into a tree — attributed to Pokémon Go in news reports during the same period,” the team wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Internal Medicine.

NBC News cites the player who sideswiped a cop car while playing in Baltimore as one of the high-profile incidents included in the study, but the data still paints a troubling picture:

“Eighteen percent of tweets indicated a person was playing and driving (‘omg I’m catching Pokémon and driving’) and 11 percent indicated a passenger was playing (‘just made sis drive me around to find Pokémon’),” they wrote.

“Four percent indicated a pedestrian was distracted (‘almost got hit by a car playing Pokémon GO’).

While some may have been a joke, some were clearly genuine, said the researchers, who reviewed the reports carefully. They found 4,000 tweets referring to driving and being distracted while playing the game.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for 16-24-year-olds according to NBC and the study hopes to raise concern in order to initiate changes to the app and other apps in the future. Pokemon Go does take some steps, but it isn’t perfect. The study points out that the apps could make the game ‘inaccessible’ at certain speeds to or disable play near roadways to ward off people from playing.

(Via NBC News)