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Pokémon Go linked with increase in distracted driving

Pennsylvania residents probably know about the smartphone-based game called Pokémon Go, and they may have even heard reports about how it gets many players into accidents. A study from Purdue University has discovered that distracted driving is one especially worrying trend as many drivers play the game while behind the wheel.

Niantic developed an update for the game that senses when players are in a fast-moving vehicle and asks them to confirm that they're passengers before continuing; the company then made most of its features unplayable above certain speeds. This still has not stemmed the rise in distracted drivers.

Two professors from Purdue University studied the nearly 12,000 accident reports in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, that were made in a 148-day period from the launching of Pokémon Go. They estimated a 26.5 percent increase in traffic accidents at those intersections within 100 meters of a Pokéstop, where players go for in-game items, compared to intersections farther away. There was a total of 134 extra accidents, 31 injuries and two deaths in these Pokéstop intersections. Total vehicle damage was estimated at $500,000.

The totals suggest that over 145,000 crashes, 29,000 injuries and 250 deaths could have been caused across the U.S. in that same 148-day period. This data does not include the myriad incidents that have occurred far away from Pokéstops.

When a car accident is the result of distracted driving, the victim can see whether he or she has the grounds for a personal injury claim. This is where legal representation can help. A lawyer can bring in experts to investigate or reconstruct the accident, gather important paperwork, such as medical documents and police reports, and estimate a settlement. The lawyer can then negotiate for an informal settlement with the other driver's auto insurance company or take the case to court.

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