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Has Technological Advances Like Ridesharing Services Increased The Number of Fatal Accidents

Uber and Lyft are ride-sharing apps that have revolutionized cab-hailing. People who need transport can now call their phone and get door-to-door service, often at a fraction of the cost of traditional taxis. Proponents also noted other benefits, such as fewer drunk drivers, increased carpooling and less ownership.

Rice University’s top researchers find substantial costs associated with ride-sharing. They link ridesharing to an increase in deaths from auto accidents.

Researchers created a model based on the idea that passengers would be able to get cheap and convenient rides, while drivers would have easy income opportunities. Their model shows that the average driver quality changes when some people switch from driving to ride-sharing, and others turn into ride-share drivers. Accidents can be attributed to vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and average driver quality. This includes driving skill, intoxication, or impairment.

Researchers conducted quarterly observations in large US cities from 2001 to 2016, using staggered rollout dates from Uber/Lyft to examine the eight quarters prior and subsequent ride-share adoption.

Researchers used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find that the number of fatal accidents in auto accidents began declining in the 1980s. The trend started to reverse in 2010, when ridesharing was introduced. Researchers estimate that ridesharing led to an increase of 3 percent annually in car deaths, which amounts to 987 people dying each year. These fatalities were mostly caused by driver and passenger accidents, but pedestrians were also more at risk in fatal auto crashes.

The biggest increase in accidents occurred in larger cities, like Miami, which saw a rise in new-car registrations despite having public-transportation systems. Researchers believe that riders used ridesharing to replace public transit trips, and some might have bought cars for ride-share driving. This resulted in more cars on the roads, more congestion and more accidents. For specific statistics in Miami, contact a local Miami car accident attorney to help you understand it’s impact in your city. 

Further, the researchers found that ride-sharing use was strongly linked to increased auto deaths. This is based on Google searches for terms like “Uber” or “Lyft” within the cities. (Though ride-sharing apps are the most popular way to hail a car, Google searches for Uber are strongly associated with the number active drivers per capita in each city.

The researchers developed a model based on the idea that passengers can get cheap and comfortable cars, while drivers will have access to easy access. Their model shows that average driver behavior changes when some people switch from driving to driving, and others become drivers. Accidents can be attributed to vehicle kilometers traveled (VMT) and average driver quality. This includes driving skills, drinking too much or being impaired.

Researchers used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find that the number of people who died in traffic accidents began to decrease in the 1980s. That trend began to change in 2010, when driving was introduced. The researchers estimate that driving led to a 3% increase in car deaths each year, amounting to 987 deaths per year.

Research shows that the apps’ carpooling functions didn’t significantly decrease total VMT or reverse fatalities. This could be because carpooling accounts for only 20% of the overall rides.

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