NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Death by Pokémon GO: The Economic and Human Cost of Using Apps While Driving

Mara Faccio, John J. McConnell

NBER Working Paper No. 24308
Issued in February 2018
NBER Program(s):Health Care, , Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

Using police accident reports for Tippecanoe County, Indiana, and exploiting the introduction of the augmented reality game Pokémon GO as a natural experiment, we document a disproportionate increase in crashes and associated vehicular damage, injuries, and fatalities in the vicinity of locations where users can play the game while driving. We estimate the incremental county-wide cost of users playing Pokémon GO while driving to be in the range of $5.2 to $25.5 million over the 148 days following the introduction of the game. Extrapolating these estimates to nation-wide levels yields a total ranging from $2.0 to $7.3 billion.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24308

 
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