Driving with Pokemon It's more dangerous then you think it is

A few years ago Pokemon Go took the world by storm. Though it has cooled off in recent times it is still a popular source of entertainment. Unfortunately not every user has used common sense while playing and what is doubly unfortunate is that some people have chosen to play the game while driving their car.

One would think that it would be obvious to most people to not play a handheld game while operating a motor vehicle but that has apparently not been the case. With a nationwide effort underway to lessen the amount of cellphone usage while driving has been underway it seems that this scenario was probably never imagined. Maybe it should have. Two researchers at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana conducted a study and its results are shocking.

The study centered on traffic incidents in Tippecanoe County from March 1, 2015 to November 30, 2016. Pokemon Go was released in the United States in July 2016. The study itself only covered the first 148 days that the game was available but during that time there was nearly one incident per day (134 incidents in 148 days) resulting in two deaths, 31 injuries , $500,000 worth of vehicular damage and between $5 and $25 million dollars in total damages. The frequency of incidents also spiked around PokeGo stops.

Extrapolated out to the national level the monetary damages that the game caused could be anywhere between $2 billion and $7.3 billion and that all comes after the human cost as well. Reports of this prompted the game’s developer Niantic to install a lock that a user had to swipe to say they were not driving.

The game can be addicting and distracting. Numerous stories abound on the Internet of people walking off cliffs, bodies of water or even into traffic completely oblivious of their surroundings as they try to catch a rare Pokemon. It has lead to distracted drivers rear-ending cars, even police cruisers and has lead to road rage incidents as capturing a rare one is more important than avoiding being run over even leading to jail time. Some drivers have driven the wrong way on expressways or one way streets leading to police pursuit, jail time and fatalities.

Let’s remember that just talking on a cellphone while driving is distracting enough to lead to a crackdown on it. A driver does not need to take their eyes off of the road while talking on a cellphone for more than a second. Pokemon Go requires more than that. In response to this rash of incidents the auto insurance premiums of the guilty parties have increased around 18% or about $230.

Driving a vehicle is a privilege and not a right and operating one comes with a great deal of responsibility. There is no reason that anyone should be playing any game while driving, much less Pokemon Go. While the game’s usage has declined over the past year this should serve as a warning for everyone that distracted driving can have dangerous consequences for not only yourself but for all others around you. Is that Pokemon worth your life? If you answered no then it is not worth the life of anyone else as well and while you’re at it, just put the phone away. It can wait. If you answered yes, please seek help.

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