Death by Pokémon GO: The Economic and Human Cost of Using Apps While Driving
50 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2017 Last revised: 22 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 20, 2017
Based on detailed police accident reports for Tippecanoe County, Indiana, and using the introduction of the augmented reality game Pokémon GO as a natural experiment, we document a disproportionate increase in vehicular crashes and associated vehicular damage, personal injuries, and fatalities in the vicinity of locations, called PokéStops, where users can play the game while driving. The results are robust to using points of play, called Gyms, that cannot be used to play the game while driving as a placebo. We estimate the total incremental county-wide cost of users playing Pokémon GO while driving, including the value of the two incremental human lives lost, to be in the range of $5.2 million to $25.5 million over only the 148 days following the introduction of the game. Extrapolation of these estimates to nation-wide levels yields a total ranging from $2.0 billion to $7.3 billion for the same period.
Keywords: Vehicular Crashes, Cost of Users Playing Pokémon GO While Driving
JEL Classification: D60, K32, R40, R41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation