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Popular cellphone game linked to surge in car accidents

The augmented reality game 'Pokémon Go" may have caused as many as 145,000 traffic accidents in New York and around the country, according to a study released recently by Purdue University. Researchers studied accident data compiled in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, both before and after the game's July 2016 release. They found that the number of crashes near locations known as Pokéstops rose by an alarming 26.5 percent as the game grew in popularity.

Gamers visit Pokéstops, which are usually landmarks such as statues or monuments, to download items that they need to continue playing. According to the Purdue University study, 29,000 road users would have been injured and 250 killed if the rise in motor vehicle accidents near Pokéstops in Tippecanoe County occurred across the country. The researchers also noticed that the number of accidents blamed on distracted drivers increased sharply following the release of the game.

While the Purdue study was based on statistics from a single county, the evidence linking 'Pokémon Go" to car accidents seems compelling. Factors such as school schedules and inclement weather were ruled out as possible causes of the anomaly, and the researchers found that the number of crashes decreased noticeably as the distance from a Pokéstop increased.

Experienced personal injury attorneys will likely have represented clients that sustained catastrophic injuries because a negligent driver was staring at a cellphone screen instead of looking at the road ahead. Lawyers may use internet search engines to find out if accident locations have any sort of hidden significance when distraction is suspected, and police reports are vague. When these searches reveal a downloading hot spot for online games or other smartphone applications, attorneys may study the cellphone records and data usage details of negligent motorists to find out what they were doing when they crashed.

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