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Research Letter
December 2016

Pokémon GO—A New Distraction for Drivers and Pedestrians

Author Affiliations
  • 1Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, California
  • 2University of California–San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla
  • 3Human Language Technology Center of Excellence, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 4Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • 5AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Washington, DC
JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(12):1865-1866. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.6274

Pokémon GO, an augmented reality game, has swept the nation. As players move, their avatar moves within the game, and players are then rewarded for collecting Pokémon placed in real-world locations. By rewarding movement, the game incentivizes physical activity. However, if players use their cars to search for Pokémon they negate any health benefit and incur serious risk.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16- to 24-year-olds, whom the game targets.1 Moreover, according to the American Automobile Association, 59% of all crashes among young drivers involve distractions within 6 seconds of the accident.2 We report on an assessment of drivers and pedestrians distracted by Pokémon GO and crashes potentially caused by Pokémon GO by mining social and news media reports.3

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