Just as the media, law enforcement, and government have gotten the word out about the dangers of driving while distracted, another way to distract our eyes from the road has arisen. We all know about the dangers of text messaging, using in-car infotainment systems, and talking on cell phones while driving. App developers and cell phone manufacturers have even begun to create lockouts and warning systems to try to coerce people not to use their phones when they are behind the wheel. But it is possible we have not given enough attention to games.
Study Shows Correlation Between Game and Accidents
It would seem almost comedic to tell people not to play video games on their phone when they are driving, but sadly, that is exactly where law enforcement may be going in the newest battle against distracted driving. A recent study from Purdue University recently found a significant increase in car accidents after the release and widespread usage of an augmented reality game called Pokemon Go.
Pokemon Go combines game elements with the real world. Using the phone’s GPS and camera, the game puts characters in real world locations for players to find and collect. Locations may be physical structures like movie theaters and gyms, but may also be random areas like the side of the road or in the street.
Amazingly, researchers got the idea to conduct the study after co-workers told them that the only time they had to play the game was in their cars, going to and from work. That led the researchers to inquire about how much the game may have contributed to car accidents.
Accidents Increased in Places Where Game is Played
In fact, the researchers found that at locations where the game put characters (called “Pokestops”), the likelihood of an accident was 26.5% higher than in other locations, and that “distracted driver” was listed as the accident cause disproportionately higher at or near these stops.
The study was only conducted in one Indiana county, and it is a county with a high number of young and college-age drivers, and thus may not be representative of the entire country.
Additionally, while these are suspicious correlations, we do not know for certain that they are caused by the game. Police reports do not list “Pokemon” as an accident cause.
Police are aware of the problem. In fact, some police departments have even warned people not to play the game, after incidents where people playing behind the wheel crashed into police cars.
Game Playing While Driving is Distracted Driving
Driving while playing a video game is no different than fiddling with the radio or text messaging. However, they seem to be treated differently. While many will not admit to texting while driving, they may readily admit to playing the game while behind the wheel, and may even do so in groups.
Distracted drivers are liable for the accidents that they cause. While they may not admit to being distracted, often the circumstances of the accident combined with obtaining cell phone records during a case can reveal that game playing was the cause of the accident. This information can make it difficult for a defendant to avoid liability for injuries caused by careless driving.
If you are injured, make sure you uncover the cause of the accident. Contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss your car accident case.