Researchers Study Pokémon GO Accidents While Driving

Posted on Sep 30, 2016

A recent study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine, takes a close look at the real-life risks associated with playing Pokémon GO. Accidents are happening, according to researchers. They monitored the social media website Twitter and used Google News reports to track Pokémon GO Tweets mentioning traffic accidents.

The results were clear; ignoring in-game warnings as well as common sense, people are playing the game while driving. This unsettling truth affects all drivers, even those who do not play Pokémon GO.

What is Pokémon Go and why is it so dangerous to play?

By now, everyone has heard about the hot new fad that is Pokémon GO. This augmented reality game is played on your smart phone.  As a player walks around in real life, their character moves in the game; encouraging gamers to get outdoors and exercise. 

Of course, everyone has also heard numerous accounts of people getting injured while playing the game. The media has been abuzz with tales of distracted players getting hurt while playing Pokémon GO.

The biggest safety concern by far relates to people playing the game while driving. Players use their vehicles to shortcut or cheat the game and catch more Pokémon in a shorter period of time. In other words, by driving, players can cover more ground in the same amount of time.

But how many people are actually playing the game while driving?

Researchers Looked to Twitter to Uncover the Truth

Setting out to discover how many distracted driving accidents may be caused by Pokémon GO, researchers looked to Twitter. Looking at Twitter postings from July 10, 2016, through July 19, 2016, researchers studied around 4,000 unique tweets related to Pokémon GO and driving.

These tweets were broken down into three categories: the player was driving, the player was a passenger in a vehicle, or the player was a pedestrian interacting with traffic.

The Study’s Results

According to the 10-day Twitter study, of the total tweets examined, 33 percent indicated that the player was distracted by Pokémon Go while driving, riding in a car, or walking, 13 percent were safety messages warning players to stay safe, and the remaining 54 percent were unclear or hypothetical such as “From my view, Pokémon GO is not dangerous. Proves that some people are just really stupid.”

Tweets from Drivers:

  • “My mom just legit stopped the car in the middle of the road to catch a Pokémon…”
  • “Omg I’m catching Pokémon and driving.”

Tweets from Passengers:

  • “Spent the drive back with my bros phone in one hand and my phone in the other, him yelling for me to catch Pokémon for him.”
  • “Just mad sis drove me around to find Pokémon.”

Tweet from Pedestrians:

  • “Just saw a kid get clipped by a car trying to catch a Pokémon…”
  • Almost got hit by a car playing Pokémon GO.”

Based on the results of their study, researchers estimate that a total of 113,993 incidences relating to Pokémon GO reported on Twitter during those 10 days. They also found that, by looking at Google News reports from July 10-20, 2016, there were 14 accidents related to Pokémon GO over those 11 days.

Researchers hope that the results of their study can help game developers, players, and legislators limit the dangers of playing Pokémon GO and other augmented reality games. If you were in an accident related to distracted driving or distracted walking, contact attorney Jason Schultz. Call (404) 474-0804 to set up a consultation.