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A fan maneuvers his smartphone as he plays "Pokemon Go." Photo: Kin Cheung / AP

Traffic accidents — including fatalities — surged after the release of Pokemon Go, according to a new study. The research suggests that people driving while also trying to catch 'em all "gave rise to a disproportionate increase in vehicular crashes, injuries, and fatalities in the vicinity of PokéStops."

Why it matters: The number of total auto accidents and the number of fatal accidents are both already increasing — as are the number of accidents attributed to distracted driving, according to federal data. And the market for augmented-reality apps is only expected to keep growing.

The details: Researchers at Purdue University combed through nearly 12,000 police reports for traffic accidents in Tippecanoe County, Indiana — where Purdue is located. After controlling for traffic, Purdue's schedule of academic breaks and other variables, here's what they found:

  • In the first few months after Pokemon Go was released, there were more auto accidents in locations that become home to "PokeStops."
  • The county experienced an overall increase in car crashes in the first few months after Pokemon Go was released; the authors attribute 47% of that jump to the app.
  • "The county would have experienced two fewer traffic fatalities had Pokémon GO not been introduced," the study says. It also attributes roughly 31 injuries and $500,000 in vehicular damage to the game.
  • If you tried to extrapolate the study's findings nationwide, Pokemon Go would be on the hook for roughly 145,000 crashes, 30,000 injuries and 256 deaths, the authors said, though they acknowledge that extrapolation is "speculative."

Go deeper

Updated 12 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

14 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.