Distracted Driving: When Pokemon Go Turned Deadly

The release of Pokemon Go has prompted distracted driving concerns from traffic safety organizations and Chicago accident lawyers, and those fears are now being confirmed. Since the release of the game in the U.S. and worldwide, numerous accidents have taken place. Recently, two people in Japan were killed by drivers who were distracted by Pokemon Go. It is just a matter of time before the app will also lead to traffic fatalities in the U.S.

Traffic fatalities in Japan

Two people succumbed to their injuries a week apart after they were each struck by drivers who were distracted by Pokemon Go. The first accident happened on the island of Shikoku on Aug. 23. A 39-year-old farmer was driving his truck when he collided with two women who were crossing the road. A 72-year-old woman was killed in the accident, and a 60-year-old woman suffered from a broken hip. The man reportedly told law enforcement officers that he had been playing Pokemon Go and didn’t see the women crossing the road in front of him. He was taken into custody on charges of negligence.

A week later, a 20-year-old cyclist died from injuries sustained in an accident involving another distracted driver playing Pokemon Go. The man told officers that the app had drained his cell phone battery, so he was trying to plug the phone into its charger when he struck the woman. She was transported to the hospital for treatment, but she passed away two weeks later. That man was also arrested for negligence.

U.S. Crashes

Stories about drivers causing accidents while playing Pokemon go in the U.S. are appearing in the media. One man who was playing the game in Baltimore crashed into a police cruiser that was parked along the street. In New York state, a man crashed his vehicle into a tree while also playing the game. A girl in Napa, California, reportedly collided with a telephone pole while she was also playing Pokemon Go.

Studies reveal problematic driver attitudes

Illinois is one of the 46 states that forbids texting while driving for drivers of all ages. Drivers are exposed to signs in the state warning them not to text and drive. Texting and driving is only a part of the problem of distracted driving, however. Smartphones allow drivers to engage in many other distracting activities while they are driving, including:

  • Checking social media, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Checking GPS and navigation
  • Emailing
  • Using Spotify
  • Playing Pokemon Go and other games

Distracted driving is dangerous because it takes the attention of drivers away from the road and the act of driving. When a driver is distracted, he or she may then cause an accident. Two recent studies show that drivers continue to hold problematic attitudes about several distracted driving behaviors.

In a study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions, 2,500 teens were surveyed about their driving behaviors and beliefs. Almost 70 percent of the teenagers admitted to using apps while they drive. The survey respondents were also asked to rank different dangerous and distracting driving behaviors. Only 6 percent of the teenagers identified checking social media as the most dangerous or distracting driving activity.

Young people are not alone in engaging in problematic driving behaviors. Another study conducted by the National Safety Council focused on drivers from all age groups. The NSC found that 74 percent of the drivers used Facebook while driving. Thirty-seven percent admitted to using Twitter, which was followed by 35 percent who used YouTube and 32 percent who looked at Instagram while driving.

Distracted Driving Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 1,000 people are injured and eight are killed every day in accidents that involved distracted drivers. The National Safety Council believes that there are more accidents that are caused by distracted driving than are reported. The agency estimates that 25 percent of accidents involve driver distraction.

The University of Utah found that drivers who send one text are six times more likely to be involved in an accident. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that in the time it takes to read one text, a vehicle will travel around the length of a football field.

Chicago accident lawyers and distracted driving

Pokemon Go is only the latest type of distracting activity that may lead to motor vehicle accidents. When a Chicago accident lawyer believes that an accident may have resulted from driver distraction, he or she may get the help of an investigator and an accident reconstruction expert in order to make that determination if it is unclear in the police reports. A Chicago accident lawyer might do this to help build a stronger case for his or her client in order to improve the chances of recovering fair compensation.