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Study Suggests Lyft and Uber Are Associated With Increase in Traffic Fatalities

Posted by Jeremy Rosenthal | Aug 04, 2020 | 0 Comments

For riders of Uber and Lyft, the primary benefit of rideshare apps is the convenience it offers over other modes of transportation. Rideshares are usually faster than busses or light-rail and can get you directly from your location to your drop-off point. Rideshares can also be easier to deal with than taxis and all the payment is automatic through the app. However, there may be a downside to the convenience of rideshares. 

Recent research suggests the arrival of Lyft and Uber in U.S. cities is associated with an increase in fatal traffic accidents and pedestrian fatalities. If you were involved in an injury accident with a Lyft or Uber vehicle in the Denver metro area, contact a Colorado rideshare accident lawyer to understand your options.  

Ridesharing and Traffic Fatalities Study

A working paper titled “The Cost of Convenience: Ridesharing and Traffic Fatalities,” was put out by researchers at the University of Chicago and Rice University. According to the researchers:

“We examine the effect of the introduction of ridesharing services in U.S. cities on fatal traffic accidents. The arrival of ridesharing is associated with an increase of 2-3% in the number of motor vehicle fatalities and fatal accidents. This increase is not only for vehicle occupants, but also for pedestrians.”

The study was conducted using data collected on fatal road accidents for motoristscyclists, and pedestrians in the U.S. from 2010 to 2016. The arrival of rideshare services in a given city was associated with an increase in: 

  • Arterial vehicle miles traveled, 
  • Gas consumption, 
  • Annual hours of delay in traffic, and
  • New car registrations. 

Under the substitution effect, rideshare rides are taking the place of other transportation options, primarily public transportation. Some drivers may use rideshares instead of their own vehicles, but many rides are for people who would not drive if they are going out drinking, not drive because of expensive parking, or people who do not have cars. These people who would likely have been cycling, carpooling, or taking the bus may choose Lyft or Uber as a more convenient option. 

Deadheading and Unnecessary Miles on the Road

Rideshare drivers are not just substituting time and miles in a Lyft or Uber for time and miles the passenger would have completed by driving themselves. Even if a rideshare is a substitute for the rider's own vehicle, there is a lot of wasted gas, time, and miles on the road for rideshare drivers waiting for rides, and driving to and from new fares. This is sometimes known as deadheading

According to an article in the Denver Post, the amount of time Uber and Lyft drivers were “deadheading,” or driving around without a passenger or en route to pick up a rider, was at least 40% of their time. That can add up to a lot of additional miles, exhaust, traffic, and potential auto accidents. 

Some of the extra time on the road is encouraged by the rideshare companies, who need vehicles available all over an area at all times of day or night to ensure fast availability. Lyft and Uber sometimes pay incentives for drivers to stage in other towns that may need extra drivers, leaving some drivers commuting an hour or more just to be available for a ride in a different city. 

Involved in a Lyft or Uber Accident

If you or a loved one was injured in a Lyft or Uber accident in the greater Denver metropolitan area, please do not hesitate to contact today at 303-642-8888 for a free consultation. We are here to help.

About the Author

Jeremy Rosenthal

Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal is dedicated to helping his clients seek just compensation for their injuries regardless of the lengths he has to go to or the distances he may have to travel in order to get it.


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