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Playing Pokémon GO Leading to Increase in Distracted Driving

At least 14 crashes linked to the smartphone game during a 10-day period in July

MONDAY, Sept. 19, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Pokémon GO is becoming a dangerous distraction for drivers, according to a research letter published online Sept. 16 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

An analysis of Pokémon GO-related posts on Twitter found that a disturbing number of people are playing the game in their cars or on foot near traffic, lead researcher John Ayers, Ph.D., a professor of public health at San Diego State University, told HealthDay. At least 14 crashes were attributed to Pokémon GO during a 10-day period in July, including one player who drove his car into a tree while playing, Ayers and his colleagues found.

A random sample of 4,000 tweets collected during 10 days in July showed that many players are relying on motor vehicles to help them locate the “Pokémon creatures,” Ayers told HealthDay. Researchers scanned for tweets containing the terms “Pokémon,” “driving,” “drives,” “drive,” or “car,” and also included news reports that included the terms “Pokémon” and “driving.”

A third of the tweets (33 percent) indicated that a driver, passenger, or a pedestrian was distracted by Pokémon GO, which correlates to 113,993 incidences reported on Twitter in 10 days. Eighteen percent indicated a person was playing and driving, while 11 percent indicated a passenger was playing. Another 4 percent indicated a pedestrian was distracted.

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