Unfortunately, there are many people that use their phones while driving. And since Pokemon GO launched this past July, drivers have had another distraction keeping their eyes from the road and on their phones. The game has been blamed for numerous motor vehicle accidents, but even so, people may not realize just how big of a distraction Pokemon GO is for drivers. Well, a new study published by JAMA Internal Medicine shows that a shocking number of people are playing Pokemon GO while driving.
The researchers analyzed data from social media sites like Twitter, as well as various news sources, to estimate how many times Pokemon GO was a distraction for people. According to their results, there were 113,993 incidences of a driver, passenger, or pedestrian distracted by Pokemon GO reported on Twitter within a 10 day period. In that same 10 day period, there were 14 different Pokemon GO-related car accidents reported by news sources.
The study points out that Pokemon GO can be dangerous even if it is a passenger in a car playing the game, as passengers can encourage drivers to drive recklessly to help them capture Pokemon or reach PokeStops. Considering this, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see Niantic may expand its car safety update in the future to make it outright impossible to play Pokemon GO at certain speeds.
The goal of this study is to help legislators and game developers make augmented reality games like Pokemon GO safer. The researchers suggest that not only should Niantic disable the game at speeds greater than 10mph, and in order to prevent distracted pedestrians from being hit by a car, they also recommend that Pokemon GO be unusable near busy highways or parking lots.
Whether or not any of these restrictions come to pass remains to be seen, and with Pokemon GO‘s popularity waning, it may be too late for any of this to have a significant impact. Even so, that hasn’t stopped legislatures the world over from addressing the game and the influence it has had on their communities. For example, California has been trying to pass a law that would make it illegal to play Pokemon GO while driving, along with other potential mobile distractions, and there are some regions that have discussed banning the game entirely.
Playing Pokemon GO or any other video game while driving is a dangerous distraction, and we’ve had enough examples of people getting hit by cars, drivers hitting police vehicles, and pedestrians walking off cliffs to know that something needs to be done to address the issue. Whether this study influences future legislation or Niantic itself is anyone’s guess, but we’ll find out in the coming months.
Pokemon GO is available now for iOS and Android mobile devices.
Source: JAMA Internal Medicine