A Form of Distracted Driving That Is Becoming Increasingly Popular and Dangerous

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Form of Distracted Driving That Is Becoming Increasingly Popular and Dangerous

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

There is a new form of distracted driving that is becoming increasingly popular and equally dangerous.

It is not talking on your phone or even texting. Instead, it is playing mobile games. Whether that game takes up a few seconds at a red light, or someone peeks at the progress of their game while in traffic, mobile gaming has increased the number of dramatic driving accidents on the road at an alarming rate.

What Issues Are Mobile Games Causing in Chicago?

Mobile games have always been popular. Whether you are waiting in the doctor’s office or standing in line at the store, you can take out your phone, fire up a game, and stay entertained. More games today are also implementing augmented reality, which makes the game interact with your real-life scenarios.

Take Pokémon GO for example. This game uses your surroundings and has you attempt to capture a character that is near you. The more characters you catch, the easier it is to win the game. Your phone prompts you when a character is nearby, even if you are driving.

While Pokémon GO is a primary example of mobile games that lead to distracted driving, it is by no means the only game causing accidents.

Other mobile games that are notorious for distracting motorists include:

  • Angry Birds
  • Sim City
  • Fruit Ninja
  • Minecraft
  • Clash of Clans
  • Rollercoaster Tycoon
  • Candy Crush

If you have ever played any of these games, you know that some are passive and do not use your real-life surroundings to play, but they are still addicting. In fact, they are so addicting that you might find yourself checking your phone at a stop light, or playing while in traffic to help pass the time.

Mobile Game Customers Coincide with High-Risk Distracted Driving Groups

According to the Distracted Driving Study by NHTSA, a vast majority of distracted drivers are between 20 and 29. Another study found that Pokémon Go users (at least 49 percent) are between 18 and 29. Therefore, these age groups crossover just enough to establish a threat.

What Is Distracted Driving and Why Is It So Serious?

Distracted driving results from an activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the road and onto something else. The driver may still have his or her hands on the wheel, may remove their hands to engage with an object, or simply divert their attention from the task of driving. There are numerous forms of distracted driving, ranging from talking to a passenger, to mobile games, to texting.

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that 3,477 people died in an accident with a distracted driver. During the day, NHSTA found that 660,000 drivers use their phones while driving, which increases the chances of a deadly motor vehicle accident. Teenagers were the group most likely to engage in distracted driving, and have the highest rate of fatal distracted driving accidents.

Study Links Pokémon GO to Distracted Driving Accidents

Pokémon GO is one of the causes of the increased distracted driving rates among mobile gamers. In fact, one study by JAMA Internal Medicine found that there are 20,000 instances of distracted driving each day because of the game.

Pokémon Go players are relentless and will do whatever it takes to catch in the game – even if that means not paying attention to the road in the process. Researchers even found instances where drivers would admit to distracted driving over the mobile game while driving by posting their acts on Twitter.

Pokémon GO released in July 2016, and since then it has been a factor in numerous distracted driving accidents throughout the United States.

The first accident that named the mobile game as the cause was in Auburn, New York. In this case, the driver was too busy playing the game and drove their vehicle off the road and into a tree. The driver did survive that accident, but local police officers posted messages on social media warning residents about the dangers of distracted driving.

Pokémon Go Cited in Numerous Distracted Driving Accidents

Since the incident in Auburn, New York, several more accidents have been reported, including:

  • Maryland – Just 12 days after the first accident involving the popular mobile game, an SUV drove into a police vehicle because the driver was too busy playing their game.
  • Vermont – A drunken driver is dangerous enough, but a drunken driver that is also distracted can be fatal. In Vermont, a 21-year old man was arrested for playing Pokémon Go while intoxicated after causing an accident. Luckily, no one was injured in this accident.

The makers of Pokémon Go have started to disable features of the game when they detect that a vehicle is driving more than 10 miles per hour. However, a driver can click a button saying that they are a passenger and the warnings stop.

How Does a Mobile Game Distract Drivers?

Mobile games take more physical and cognitive processes than you might realize. Even the act of checking your phone for a game notification can be distracting.

Here are just a few ways mobile games distract you:

  • Your eyes are no longer on the road. If you are looking at your phone, you are no longer looking at the road. That means you may miss that the vehicle in front of you has slowed, come to a stop, or a pedestrian has run into the middle of the road.
  • You have taken your hand off the steering wheel. To pick up your phone, you had to take your hand off the steering wheel. Your hand is also engaged with the phone, pushing on notifications.
  • Your reaction times are slowed. When you are not paying attention to the road, your reaction times automatically slow down. The more engaged you are with your mobile game, the slower you will be. All it takes is a few seconds for something to change on the road, and when you are not actively watching for those changes, you may cause an accident.

Mobile Games Are Not the Only Distraction Affecting Motorists Today

Distracted driving takes many forms. You cannot drive safely if you are not fully concentrating on the act of driving. Mobile games are just an example of something that could distract you. Texting and driving is another form of distracted driving. It takes approximately five seconds for you to read and send a single text message. When you are driving 55 miles per hour, you could drive for the length of a football field while ignoring the road and sending that same text message.

There are three main categories of distraction:

  • Visual – Taking your eyes off the road to look at your phone, read a quick message, or even turning your head to adjust the radio.
  • Manual – Manual involves removing your hands from the wheel to engage with something or someone. Manual distractions include more than holding a cellphone; they can also include eating or drinking, adjusting the radio, inputting information into your GPS, and so forth.
  • Cognitive – When you are engaging in something other than driving, you are no longer 100 percent focusing on the road and your cognitive focus is reduced.

The Number of Distracted Deaths Is Increasing – Not Decreasing

Despite the awareness campaigns, mobile apps that stop distracted driving, and state laws creating harsh penalties for offenders, the number of distracted driving deaths are increasing rather than decreasing.

  • 2010: 3,092 deaths and 416,000 injuries
  • 2011: 3,331 deaths and 387,000 injuries
  • 2012: 3328 deaths and 421,000 injuries
  • 2014: 3,179 deaths and 431,000 injuries
  • 2015: 3,477 deaths and 391,000 injuries

How to Prevent Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is easy to engage in and you might be doing it without really thinking about it. Distracted drivers are everywhere on the road with you as well; therefore, you must do your part to limit your distractions and stay safe.

Some ways you can help prevent distracted driving in your vehicle include:

  • Only using your cellphone in an emergency. While you are driving, your cellphone has no place in your hand or in front of your eyes. Instead, leave it where it is and only use a cellphone in the vehicle in an emergency.
  • Pullover to use your phone. Do not use your phone at a stop light. Instead, pull your vehicle over and remove yourself from traffic entirely.
  • Limit how many passengers you have in your vehicle. Passengers are extremely distracting, especially when they engage in conversations.
  • Turn your phone to silent or turn off game notifications. To keep you from picking up your phone to check messages and notifications, turn your phone to silent. You can also silence specific applications so that they do not notify you – reducing the chances you will look at your phone.

Injured by a Distracted Driver? You Have Rights

If you or a loved one was injured by a distracted driver, you have the right to seek compensation from that driver. Speak with an attorney from Malman Law today, and let our attorneys help explore your options.

We offer free, no-obligation consultations. You can schedule your appointment now by calling our office at 888-625-6265 or by contacting us online.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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