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Study shows 'Pokémon Go' may have caused traffic crashes, deaths

While many New Jersey residents may love to play "Pokémon Go," a new study shows that the popular smartphone-based game may have led to a surge in traffic injuries and deaths after its July 2016 launch. The study was conducted by researchers at Purdue University and released online in November.

For the study, researchers examined accident data for Tippecanoe County, Ind., in the months surrounding the release of "Pokémon Go." They then matched up the accident data with Pokéstops, which are areas that players visit to obtain game supplies, throughout the county. They found that motor vehicle collisions jumped countywide after the game came out, but they spiked by 26.5 percent at intersections near Pokéstops. Over the first 21 weeks of the game's availability, they estimated that players caused approximately 134 accidents near Pokéstops, which may have resulted in 31 injuries, two deaths and $500,000 in vehicle damage.

If the numbers for Tippecanoe County are extrapolated across the United States, the study suggests that "Pokémon Go" may have caused 145,000 accidents, 29,000 injuries and 250 deaths over the first 148 days of its release. However, the authors of the study stressed that these numbers are "speculative." "Pokémon Go" developer Niantic is apparently aware that the game can increase the risk of car accidents. In August 2016, it added an in-game warning for players in fast-moving automobiles. In November 2016, they altered the game to make it nearly impossible to play in a fast-moving car.

Distracted driving is one of the top causes of traffic accidents in the U.S. The victim of a distracted driving car accident may have a solid personal injury case against the driver who caused the crash. An attorney could help such a victim obtain compensation for damages.

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