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Study Reveals Thousands of Drivers Playing ‘Pokemon Go’ While Behind Wheel

‘Pokemon Go’ is a free location-based augmented reality game (a video game that allows players to experience digital gameplay in a real-world environment) that created a worldwide craze when it was released this past July. Players use their mobile devices to locate, capture, battle, or train virtual creatures, and the popularity of the game was not without criticism.

Some people complained about players using the app in sensitive locations such as the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum or Arlington National Cemetery, and many other players suffered serious injuries or were killed because they entered dangerous settings or ignored certain real-life hazards while playing the game. On September 16, JAMA Internal Medicine published a study that demonstrated yet another concern about people using “Pokemon Go” at inopportune times: Playing while driving.

The study’s authors searched Twitter postings (tweets) containing the terms “Pokémon” and “driving,” “drives,” “drive,” or “car” for July 10 through 19, 2016, as well as Google News reports that included “Pokémon” and “driving” published from July 10 to 20, 2016. The Google News results yielded 321 story clusters, but the researchers found that the 33 percent of tweets indicating that a driver, passenger, or pedestrian was distracted by “Pokemon Go” suggested there were 113,993 total incidences reported on Twitter in just 10 days.

While the findings were certainly concerning, one of the study’s authors, John Ayers, told NPR that the analysts knew they were undercounting because not all players use social media and the study did not reveal how many of the players were involved in automobile accidents. The study noted that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among essentially the game’s primary audience: 16- to 24-year-olds.

Catherine McDonald, an assistant professor of nursing in the Family and Community Health Department at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and a Senior Fellow with the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told NPR that young people may prioritize the game over the road. “The gaming aspect or the collecting of Pokemon and the competition aspect may outweigh some of the [safety] risks for them,” McDonald told NPR.

Distracted Driving Accidents in West Chester, PA

Even before mobile devices became more commonplace in society, motorists were still susceptible to various distractions that posed certain risks for others on the road. Generally, there are three types of possible distractions:

  • Visual — A distraction that takes a driver’s eyes off the road;
  • Manual — A distraction that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive — A distraction that takes a driver’s mind off of the task at hand.

The amplified danger of “Pokemon Go” is that people who are playing the game while driving are subject to all three of these kinds of distractions. Much like people who text while driving, “Pokemon Go” players are at increased risk of causing motor vehicle accidents.

Innocent people involved in crashes caused by distracted drivers may sustain any one of a number of catastrophic injuries, including paralysis, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), or death. Negligent drivers will not necessarily admit that they had been preoccupied with “Pokemon Go” or something else on their mobile devices, which is why it is critical for any person who was hurt or had a loved one killed by a distracted driver to immediately retain legal counsel.

An experienced West Chester personal injury attorney can investigate the cause of a car crash and subpoena a negligent driver’s phone records, if necessary, to prove that the motorist was distracted. Contact a lawyer today if you suffered serious injuries or your loved one was killed by a distracted driver so you can get help obtaining compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and your pain and suffering.

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