There were 100,000 Pokémon GO-related incidents over 10 days in July, a new study found. These range from near accidents to crashing a car into a tree.
Researchers who monitored tweets and Google News reports claim that driving-related incidents associated with Pokémon GO are a regular occurrence.
Over 10 days in July, the number of incidents exceeded 100,000, according to a new study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal.
Most of the incidents observed from July 10 to 19 were near misses from accidents or observations from passers-by. But, all of them revolved around the game being a distraction.
The study involved a group of researchers from San Diego State University, the University of California’s San Diego School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Southern California and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
They scoured through 4,000 tweets at random and looked for words like “Pokémon,” “driving,” and “car.” About a third of these pointed to passengers, drivers or pedestrians being distracted by the augmented reality game.
From these findings, researchers inferred that the number of incidents recorded on Twitter over the 10-day period was close to 114,000.
About 18 per cent of these tweets indicated that a driver was playing Pokémon GO. It could be a first person account such as: “omg I’m catching Pokémon and driving.”
Or, something more indirect like “My mum just legit stopped the car in the middle of the road to catch a Pokémon.”
Four percent of tweets suggested that someone was distracted while walking. Some pedestrians even admitted that they were almost hit by traffic in the process.
Researchers also tracked news reports on accidents linked to Pokémon GO, before concluding that it was a health hazard. There were 321 of these reports over the 10-day period, Forbes reported.
Of these, 14 featured car crashes – including one where driver crashed into a tree.
“Making the game inaccessible for a period after any driving speed has been achieved may be necessary given our observations that players are driving or riding in cars,” researchers wrote.
“At the same time augmented reality games might be disabled near roadways or parking lots to protect pedestrians and drivers alike, given reports of distractions herein,” they added.
Read Forbes for the full report.