Study: Pokémon Go led to increase in traffic deaths, accidents
Since Pokémon Go's launch last summer, there have been plenty of anecdotal news reports and social media mentions of players being hurt or even killed while playing the game. A new study from Purdue University, though, uses detailed local traffic accident reports to suggest that Pokémon Go caused a marked increase in vehicular damage, injuries, and even deaths due to people playing the game while driving.
In the provocatively titled "Death by Pokémon 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 Pokémon Go's July 6, 2016 launch. The authors then cross-referenced those reports with the locations of Pokéstops in the county (where players visit frequently to obtain necessary in-game items) to determine whether the introduction of a Pokéstop correlated with an increase in accident frequency, relative to intersections that didn't have them.
Getting at causation
While the incidence of traffic accidents increased across the county after Pokémon Go's introduction, that increase was a statistically significant 26.5 percent greater at intersections within 100 meters of a Pokéstop, compared to those farther away. All told, across the county, the authors estimate 134 extra accidents occurred near Pokéstops in the 148-day period immediately after the game came out, compared to the baseline where those Pokéstops 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.