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Study links Pokemon Go to distracted driving and accidents

As distracted driving becomes an increasing concern in California, a study from Purdue University confirms the dangers of smartphones in the hands of drivers. Two professors used the popular game, Pokémon Go, which launched in July 2016, to look at the possible relationship between gameplay and motor vehicle accidents.

The researchers focused on a single county in the Midwest and collected almost 12,000 traffic accident reports for the time period before and after the release of the game. They then compared accident data at gathering locations of players known as Pokéstops to areas not associated with the game. Intersections within 100 meters of the Pokéstops produced an accident rate that was 26.5 percent higher than areas that are farther away.

Due to the game's nationwide popularity, the researchers speculated that the game might have been responsible for approximately 145,000 additional accidents across the country. Theoretically, their findings for one county could mean that Pokémon Go contributed to 250 extra deaths and 29,000 more injuries throughout the nation.

Niantic, the developer of the game, has recognized its potential for distracting people. Recent updates to the game warn people not to play while driving. If a player is inside a fast-moving vehicle, the game halts most aspects of play.

Regardless of the temptations presented by smartphones, drivers have a responsibility to keep their eyes on the road. Someone injured in a wreck caused by a distracted or reckless driver could have a legal right to recover compensation for medical expenses, disability and lost income. A Northridge, California, auto accident attorney could provide services that enable a person to negotiate an adequate settlement from an insurance company. When necessary, a lawyer also could file a lawsuit and present the injury claim to a jury if the responsible party resists recognizing his or her liability.

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