Smartphone apps play a big role in distracted driving rates

This article looks at how smartphone apps, especially Pokemon Go, contribute to distracted driving.

Distracted driving can mean many different things, from texting on a phone to eating while behind the wheel. While most of the conversation surrounding distracted driving rightly revolves around the impact mobile devices play in the problem in general, there has been little attention paid to how apps specifically may be taking drivers' attentions away from the road. However, as the Washington Post reports, a recent study of the impact of Pokemon Go on traffic accidents shows that apps may be far more distracting and more dangerous than previously assumed.

Pokemon Go leads to spike in crashes

Researchers at Purdue University analyzed the crash data for Tippecanoe County, Indiana in the months after the popular mobile video game Pokemon Go was released and compared that data to where so-called PokeStops in the game were located. As an augmented reality video game, Pokemon Go required players to visit real-life locations (called PokeStops) in order to refill on supplies in the game.

The researchers found that after the game was released, crashes located in the vicinity of PokeStops soared by 26.5 percent in the county. In fact, Pokemon Go accounted for almost half of all the crashes that occurred in Tippecanoe County in the 148-day period after the game's release. Extrapolating the data nationwide, the researchers speculate that Pokemon Go could have been responsible for an additional 145,000 accidents, 29,000 injuries, and 250 deaths, according to Ars Technica.

Distracted driving comes in many forms

Pokemon Go has declined substantially in popularity since it was released in 2016, meaning it likely presents less of a risk to road users today than it did a year ago. However, the study is still important because it shines a light on how dangerous individual apps can be when used by drivers. Much of the distracted driving problem has focused on texting and driving or talking on a cellphone while driving, but as this study shows smartphones can be used for far more than simply communicating with other people.

Other studies have shown how any type of distraction is dangerous behind the wheel, whether or not it is caused by a mobile device. Even built-in car infotainment systems, which are often marketed as safety features since they are usually hands-free, are mentally distracting for drivers and may be just as dangerous as texting while driving. Combined with this latest study, it is clear that distracted driving is not only a widespread problem, but one that comes in many different forms.

Personal injury law

For those who have been hurt in an accident, help is at hand. A personal injury attorney can show accident victims what legal avenues are open to them. In many cases, it may be possible to pursue financial compensation and an attorney can help clients file a claim that has the best chance of succeeding.