According to a new study from Purdue University, Pokemon GO has caused over 140,000 traffic accidents in the U.S. Released last year, the mobile game required players to hunt down Pokemon－cute digital monsters－through an augmented reality program.
By cross-referencing traffic accident data from one county in Indiana with the locations of local “Pokestops” (areas where Pokemon GO players can find Pokemon), the researchers discovered that accidents were 26.5 percent more likely to occur within 100 meters of a Pokestop than at other locations. Even when controlling for other variables, they found that Pokemon GO could be linked to 31 injuries, two deaths, and half a million dollars in vehicle damage. They estimate that nationwide, Pokemon GO could be the cause of over 145,000 traffic accidents.
The study’s authors cite Pokemon GO accidents as symptomatic of a larger problem: distracted driving. In 2011, U.S. traffic accidents dropped to their lowest number since 1988, but have risen rapidly since. In 2014, traffic accidents spiked 7.2 percent. Safety updates have made Pokemon GO mostly impossible to play while driving, but other mobile apps continue to contribute to traffic accidents.