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Pokémon Go: Distracted Driving and Mobile Gaming

Click here for rankings table and click here to view interactive maps

Here's what you need to know...
  • The largest portion of distracted drivers belonged to the Millennial generation, aged 20 to 29
  • With a game that specifically demands players to get out and “catch ’em all,” distracted driving accident statistics are bound to rise
  • Although the app issues a warning for its players to “Be alert at all times and stay aware of your surroundings,” Pokémon GO has incited global chaos
  • To keep yourself fully protected, make sure that your car insurance has adequate coverage
The Internet Age has brought us plenty of incredible innovations. Long gone are the days of needing a paper map to get anywhere. Now, drivers can use GPS devices and even mobile maps to calculate their routes from point A to point B.

But mobile phones are now posing a much larger distraction than advantage to drivers, and the new wave of mobile games, in particular, is proving to be a viable threat to driver safety.

In 2014, 3,179 people were killed in distraction-related accidents; 61 percent of those people were the drivers. The largest portion of distracted drivers belonged to the Millennial generation, aged 20 to 29.

A total of 28.5 percent (859) of the drivers from the 2014 figure belonged to this age group, and 17.9 percent (154) were distracted by their phones at the time of the accident.

Even worse, this group was not even first for being distracted by their phones while behind the wheel. That title went to 15 to 19-year-olds, who comprised 18.9 percent of the figure.

These young drivers are already more likely to be involved in an accident due to inexperience, so placing them behind the wheel and adding a cell phone into the mix is asking for disaster.

These stats were compiled two years before the launch of Pokémon GO, but are still relevant to how younger generations use their smartphones in their vehicles.

Pokémon GO presents new challenges; it’s an augmented reality app that encourages players ( also known as trainers) to get out and travel around their neighborhoods looking for Pokémon. For many, this means driving their cars to a variety of locations.

With a game that specifically demands players to get out and “catch ’em all,” distracted driving accident statistics are bound to rise.

Don’t wait until an accident to find the right coverage — Start comparing car insurance quotes online today with our free tool!

Methodology

The rankings for this study are based on statistics made available to the public by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (“NHTSA”) “Distracted Driving Study.” For a complete breakdown, click here.

Number of Drivers Using Cell Phones involved in a fatal crash

 

Distracted Driving and Mobile Gaming 2016 - 1

(Click here for an interactive chart)

The graph above is from this table, and explained in the bullet points below:

  • Number of Drivers using Cell Phones involved in a fatal crash, by age group
  • Number Total Drivers involved in a fatal crash, by age group
  • Percentage of Total Drivers involved in a fatal crash, by age group
  • Number of Distracted Drivers involved in a fatal crash, by age group
  • Percentage of Total Drivers that were Distracted Drivers, by age group
  • Percentage of Distracted Drivers involved in a fatal crash, by age group
  • Percentage of Cell Phone Drivers that were Distracted Drivers, by age group
  • Percentage of Cell Phone Drivers involved in a fatal crash, by age group

People Killed in Distraction-Affected Crashes, by Person Type

Distracted Driving and Mobile Gaming 2016 - 2-2

The graph above is from this table, and explained in the bullet points below:

  • Person Type – Position of the person killed in the accident (e.g. “Driver,” “Pedestrian,” etc.)
  • Killed in Distraction-Affected Crashes – Total number of people killed by person group
  • Percentage of Distraction-Affected Fatalities – Percent of people killed by person type

Pokémon GO Car Accidents

Even though it just released in July 2016, Pokémon GO has already been the driving force behind multiple driving-related accidents. The first happened in Auburn, New York, when a driver playing the game, while behind the wheel, somehow managed to fly off the road and straight into a tree.

Thankfully the driver survived, and the Auburn Police took to social media to post a photo of the crash and warn people against the dangers of driving and using a phone at the same time.

– Maryland

Around the same time, just 12 days after the app’s launch in Baltimore. A body camera captured the harrowing footage of an SUV plowing into the side of a parked police cruiser.

Although the officers were thankfully out of the vehicle at the time of the incident, Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith released a statement that warned people about the gravity the app poses to drivers.

“This is serious stuff,” he said. “It’s a game, but it’s not a game when you’re behind the wheel of a 2,000-pound vehicle, driving down the roadway.”

– Vermont

A drunk driver is already a massive threat to others and himself, but an intoxicated driver with a cell phone in-hand is even worse. Unfortunately, this combination led to a crash around 8 AM on July 24 in Rutland, Vermont.

Police arrested 21-year-old Nicholas Coccia, who had been playing the game at the time of the crash.

Although there were no life-threatening injuries, Coccia had a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .2 almost twice the legal limit of .08. He told police that he had been “hunting Pokémon” and was subsequently arrested and issued a court date for the following month.

– Pennsylvania

A 15-year-old was struck by a driver playing Pokémon GO on July 13. Autumn Deiseroth had been out playing the game herself when she was hit.

After searching for Pokémon around the area, the teenager was headed home — her phone put away — when she crossed a four-lane intersection and was hit.

“She was not walking and playing the game. She was coming home to tell her mother she found Pokémon,” the girl’s mother, Tracy Nolan, told the news.

“I’m blaming the game itself because it’s dragging kids across highways; major highways. Kids don’t need to be going across highways.” Autumn suffered bruising on her side but was released from the hospital the next day.

USA Map of Pokémon GO-Related Vehicle Accidents

USA Pokemon Go Accidents

(Click here for a UPDATED interactive map – updated as of 12/27/2016)

Pokémon GO Risk Factors

In the NHTSA’s 2014 “Distracted Driving Study,” the majority of people involved in distracted driving accidents were between the ages of 20 to 29.

Recent data shows that 46 percent of Pokémon GO players are between the ages of 18 to 29. The crossover of these two age groups poses a startling threat to drivers; with so many players licensed and on the hunt, how many crashes can be expected?

Although the app issues a warning for its players to “Be alert at all times and stay aware of your surroundings,” Pokémon GO has incited global chaos.

In Taiwan, a mob of hundreds swarmed Taipei, Taiwan’s capital, in hopes of capturing a Pokémon called Snorlax. Footage shows pedestrians running through the roads, cutting across traffic, and blatantly ignoring the rules of the road.

According to Chinese media reports, thousands of player flooding the streets have resulted in dangerous overcrowding that required the civil-defense brigade and police reinforcements being called in.

Sadly, there were two separate Pokémon GO fatal driving accidents in Japan; a woman in her 70s and a woman in her 20s. We need to quickly re-evaluate whether a Pidgey is worth putting yourself and others at the risk of a fatal crash.

How to Avoid Distracted Driving

Whether you’re an avid Pokémon hunter yourself or just prone to checking texts on the road, here are some tips you can follow to keep yourself — and everyone else — safe on the road.

The creators of Pokémon GO have recently added a new safety feature to the game. The Pokémon GO App will now detect, using GPS, when a player is moving too fast. When this occurs, the App creators believe the player may be driving a vehicle. To curb poor driving behavior, this new feature will remind “trainers” to not play while driving.

Distracted Driving and Mobile Gaming 2016 - 3

If you really have something to say, wait until you’re at a red light to record a quick message or pull over to make a call.

  • Switch Off Devices Before You Start the Car – Once you’re behind the wheel, take a few minutes to reply to any texts or emails, or check apps. Then, turn off your phone and place it in the glovebox or backseat, which will prevent you from reaching for it during your drive and also stop you from getting distracted by any notification alerts.
  • Tell Everyone You’re Driving – If you have an ongoing conversation, tell the other person you’re in the car and will reply when you’ve reached your destination. A simple “Driving now, will reply in a bit” will do the trick.
  • Avoid Calls and Voice Messages – Even though a hands-free device allows you to keep your eyes on the road, it still diverts your attention from what’s in front of you. Your mind should only be focused on what’s beyond the windshield, so even audio messages and calls on speaker phone pose a risk.

Protecting Yourself from Distracted Drivers

You may take plenty of measures to keep yourself safe on the road, from always driving without distractions to installing additional safety features on your vehicle. But you can’t control what other drivers do, and there are bound to be plenty of distracted drivers out at any given time.

To keep yourself fully protected, make sure you have adequate auto insurance coverage. Investing in a collision and comprehensive policy will ensure that no matter what happens while you’re out and about, your car is protected. Stay alert and stay safe!

Check out auto insurance quotes for FREE right now by entering your ZIP in the box below.

Complete Rankings: Distraction-Related Fatalities

– To sort the table by category, click on header columns.

– Click here for the full stats and sources for each category. For all media inquiries, please email: Tyler Spraul

– Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes by Age, Distraction, and Cell Phone Use




– People Killed in Distraction-Affected Crashes, by Person Type



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