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PokemonGO the newest source of distraction for California drivers

A new game, PokemonGo, is distracting drivers and keeping them from driving safely while they are travelling, a new study shows.

Since cellphones became such a prominent part of people’s lives not too long ago, a significant amount of attention has been given to the dangers of texting or talking on a cellphone while driving. Although both of these activities endanger the lives of drivers, passengers and pedestrians in California, other forms of technology and applications, like PokemonGo, distract drivers behind the wheel.

How PokemonGo distracts drivers

Since PokemonGo became such a popular application, researchers set out to determine how distracting it was to drivers. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers analyzed tweets published by drivers playing this game, which allows people to “catch” Pokemon in a virtual reality world.

Over a period of 10 days, researchers obtained and analyzed 345,433 tweets that included the words “car, “drive,” “drives” or “driving” and the word “Pokemon.” After taking a random sample of 400 tweets, the researchers found that 18 percent indicated that the person who tweeted was simultaneously playing PokemonGo while driving. Additionally, they found that in 1/3 of the tweets, either a pedestrian, driver or passenger was distracted while playing the game.

Some may argue that PokemonGo does not distract drivers because Pokemon cannot be caught at speeds above 10 mph. However, players can still search for Pokemon in their vicinity regardless of how fast they are travelling. This allows drivers to have the application open while they drive looking for Pokemon and then slow down to catch them.

Facts about driver distraction

Distracted driving activities, like playing PokemonGo, texting, talking on a cellphone and eating, contribute to fatal and injurious car accidents every day in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that on a daily basis, 1,161 people are injured and over eight people are killed in collisions involving distraction. Many deaths and injuries also occur on the roads in California regularly even though, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, drivers in the state are prohibited from using their cellphone as they operate a vehicle.

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