‘Pokémon Go’ Distracts 10K Drivers Per Day. Sort of. I Guess.

September 19, 2016

5:15 pm

Keck School of Medicine researchers just published a study on Pokémon Go and distracted drivers: The AR app game could be causing as many as 10,000 distractions in drivers across the globe daily. Does that sound crazy? Judge the data behind the claim yourself: The study culled 350,000 tweets featuring a combination of the word “Pokemon” and words like “car” or “driving,” all from a period between July 10 and July 19 of this year.

Granted, that was peak Pokemon Go. Driving while playing the game is now a lot less cool.

Also, relying on Twitter for facts is sort of like quoting Wikipedia in your English paper. But the study’s authors are willing to go even further.

Some People Even Drive In Order to Play, Apparently

I haven’t seen the evidence behind this factoid, but the quote comes straight from study coauthor Jon-Patrick Allem, a social scientist at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, in an article by the LA Times:

“Mobile phone calls or text messaging spontaneously occur and can be ignored while driving, but in the case of ‘Pokemon Go,’ drivers may be getting into their car with the explicit purpose to play.”

It’s possible that this deduction is based off of a few Twitter jokes that did not display their authors’ literal intent. But 350,000 tweets still add up to a problem. Given this study, perhaps it is for the best that the outsized popularity of Pokémon Go is slowly dying out.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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