Catching Pokémon while driving is not safe at all as a study reported incidents of crashes and more than 110,000 instances in just 10 days where drivers or pedestrians were distracted by Pokémon GO. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16 to 24-year-olds, whom the game targets, the investigators, led by John Ayers from San Diego State University, wrote in the study.
The augmented reality game, which allows players to catch and collect Pokémons in real-world locations through the mobile phone camera, has taken the youngsters by storm since its release in July. As players move, their avatar moves within the game, and players are then rewarded for collecting Pokémons placed in real-world locations.
By rewarding movement, the game incentivises physical activity. However, if players use their cars to search for Pokémon they negate any health benefit and incur serious risk, the study said.
To evaluate the risk of traffic-related incidents, Twitter postings containing the terms “Pokémon” and “driving,” “drives,” “drive,” or “car” were obtained for July 10- July 19, 2016. A random sample of 4,000 tweets was generated, and estimates from this sample were used to create population-level estimates.
Google News reports published during the study period that included “Pokémon” and “driving” were obtained, yielding 321 story clusters. Reports of crashes caused by Pokémon GO were identified and duplicate coverage was eliminated.
There were 14 unique crashes – one player drove his car into a tree – attributed to Pokémon GO in news reports during the same period, the study published online in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on Friday reported.
Thirty three percent of tweets indicated that a driver, passenger, or pedestrian was distracted by Pokémon GO, suggesting there were 113,993 total incidences reported on Twitter in just 10 days.
Research has shown that nearly 60 per cent of accidents among young drivers occur within 6 seconds of being distracted, the researchers wrote. “Our findings can help develop strategies for game developers, legislators, and the public to limit the potential dangers of Pokemon GO and other augmented reality games,” the researchers said.