Pokemon Go has become a new temptation for drivers, and this has caught the attention of health researchers who claim that around 11,000 people play daily while they walk or drive in traffic, notes The Columbian. The augmented reality game motivates people to collect animated, virtual creatures that wield distinct powers like water, fire or current.

Pokemon Go
Image Credit: LizSmith/Pixabay

Driving and gaming a big no-no

A statement by Washington State Patrol said, “Please don’t catch and drive, it’s more dangerous than texting while driving.”

This statement publicized a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, says The Columbian.

In July, researchers scanned social networking platforms over a 10-day period that included 14 Pokemon-related crashes. The researchers located around 345,433 tweets in which keywords included Pokemon and words meaning “driving.” The researchers noted that 18% of the tweets indicated that a person was playing and driving (Omg I’m catching Pokemon and driving), 4% indicated a pedestrian was distracted (almost got hit by a car playing Pokemon Go), and 11% indicated that a passenger in a vehicle was playing.

Though the researchers noted that traditional surveillance is needed to confirm their findings, still there were more than 110,000 discrete instances, even with a limited scope covering just 10 days, in which pedestrians or drivers were distracted by the game and some crashed.

Players aware of Pokemon Go driving hazard

The study found that motor vehicle crashes are the number one 1 cause of death among 16- to 24-year-olds, who are also the prime Pokemon Go audience. Also around six in ten crashes involving younger drivers happen within six seconds of the driver being distracted, said the study.

Pokemon Go is distracting to players, and some of them even agree. Players from the Twin Cities-area acknowledge that they fight the urge to play while driving their vehicle. They also said that some of them even impose rules on themselves for better safety, says a report from TwinCities. A user posted on Facebook that they turn the game on while driving but do not play unless they are at a red light. The user further wrote that they hand the phone to their daughter to catch the Pokemon if the light turns green.

The Pokemon Go app is restricted when speed exceeds 10 mph., but according to the JAMA writers, led by John Ayers of San Diego State University, it should be disabled even further as several users mix driving and gaming.