Ridesharing services continue to grow in popularity and regular usage in large cities across the nation. Unfortunately, a dramatic trend seems to directly correlate with the introduction of ride-hailing vehicles such as Uber and Lyft into large metro areas throughout the United States. Are ridesharing services making busy city streets and fast-moving highways safer … or more dangerous?
While traffic fatalities were near an all-time low in 2010, many institutions have recorded a sharp rise in traffic deaths in the years since. The University of Chicago and Rice University combined efforts to conduct a study that carefully examined this increase. The study looked at crash data for numerous cities that compared fatality statistics before and after the introduction of ride-hailing services to that specific city. Since 2011, the study notes, traffic deaths increased by 2% to 3% annually across the United States. This percentage equates to as many as 1,100 fatalities.
What has caused this increase?
While we have discussed factors such as distracted driving and speeding in the past, there are additional elements to consider. For example, technological advances and app ease-of-use has led to an increase in ride-hailing vehicles on the roads. Individuals who would have previously chosen public transportation such as buses or trains can now conveniently ride in a passenger vehicle to their destination. This convenience leads to traffic congestion and an increase in the chance of serious collisions.
Additionally, the study noted the phenomenon known as “deadheading” could lead to even greater traffic congestion. Deadheading is essentially the time an Uber or Lyft driver spends looking for their next fare. Rideshare drivers can spend 40% to 60% of their time searching for passengers. This also leads to more traffic on the highways and surface streets. Put simply, “more vehicles” equals “more collisions.”
Motor vehicle collisions can result in devastating property damage and catastrophic injuries. Depending on the types of vehicles involved and the speeds at which they were traveling, the wreck can lead to vehicle occupant fatalities or pedestrian fatalities.