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Study links Pokémon Go with increase in car crashes

Illinois residents probably remember when Pokémon Go was launched back in July 2016 and how it led to reports of gamers injuring themselves and others because they were so immersed in the game. The game, not surprisingly, also had an impact on car crash rates across the U.S., as one study made by two Purdue University professors reveals.

The authors reviewed the nearly 12,000 crash reports made in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, between the few months preceding the launch of Pokémon Go and the few months following it. They also took into account how many accidents occurred in intersections that are within 100 meters of a Pokéstop, where players go to obtain in-game items. 26.5 percent more accidents occurred at these intersections once the game was launched and the Pokéstops came into being.

This translates to 134 additional accidents, 31 additional injuries, and two additional deaths across the county in the period following the game's release. As expected, the majority of these accidents had "distracted driver" listed as the cause, though the fact that many of the causes were self-reported can bring doubt on the accuracy of the data. Using this data, the authors were able to speculate that nationwide, 145,000 more accidents, 29,000 additional injuries, and 250 more deaths occurred because of the game.

While game developers may do all they can to make a game unplayable when it senses the player is in a fast-moving vehicle, drivers can still fall prey to other distractions like the radio and the car's navigation system. When distracted driving is the cause of a car accident, the victim may be able to sue for damages. An experienced lawyer may be able to help the client avoid court altogether by negotiating an informal settlement with the other party's auto insurance carrier. If negotiations fall through, litigation may be an option.

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