'Pokemon Go' Caused Billions in Damages, Claims Controversial Study

A new research paper is blaming Pokemon Go for billions of dollars of damages in the United [...]

A new research paper is blaming Pokemon Go for billions of dollars of damages in the United States.

Purdue economists John McConnell and Mara Faccio released a new paper titled "Death by Pokemon Go" earlier this month. The report studied an increase in traffic accidents in Tippecanoe County, Indiana in the 148 days after the game was released in July 2016.

The study found that nearly 300 more traffic accidents occurred in the period following Pokemon Go's release compared to the same time period in 2015. Of those traffic accidents, 134 happened near real world sites where PokeStops were located in Pokemon Go. During the time period covered, PokeStops were the only way that Pokemon Go players could collect items, and many players would attempt to "spin" the PokeStops while driving.

The study notes that traffic accidents seemed to occur disproportionately near PokeStops as opposed to Pokemon gyms (which at the time could not be interacted with while driving), which suggests that the accidents were more likely caused by distracted driving due to players attempting to collect items in Pokemon Go than other possible causes.

In total, the increased number of accidents in Tippecanoe County alone caused between $5.2 million and $25.5 million in damages. This includes the estimated cost of two people who died in auto accidents during this time period. When scaled out to include the rest of the United States, the report estimates that Pokemon Go may have been responsible for between $2 billion and $7.3 billion in damages.

Of course, it's impossible to definitively say whether Pokemon Go was responsible for all those accidents, but distracted driving due to Pokemon Go has been an ongoing concern since its release last year. As a response to these issues, Pokemon Go instituted a "speed cap" that essentially shuts down the game when traveling about 30 miles per hour.

You can read the full study here, and always remember to wait until your car is stopped and parked before pulling out your phone to try to "catch 'em all!"