Emerging research from Rice University and University of Chicago shows an increase in fatal car accidents after ridesharing companies Lyft and Uber began operations in cities. The research suggests that additional traffic wrought by ridesharing services is directly related to a 3.5% uptick in traffic deaths, which amounts to 987 fatalities each year. It is estimated that the costs associated with these deaths range up to $13.24 billion annually.
Ridesharing services linked to higher traffic fatalities
The study was a collaboration between Professor John M. Barrios of the University of Chicago with Hanyi Yi and Yael Hochberg of Rice University. The goal was to examine the impact that ridesharing has had on fatal motor vehicle crashes. Their findings were based on data from CrashStats and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) – both before and after Uber and Lyft launched in various metropolitan areas.
The researchers found that car crashes resulting in occupant or pedestrian deaths rose by 2-4 percent every year in places where ridesharing was introduced. Since the mid-1980s the number of fatal accidents per capita in the U.S. have decreased steadily. However, this decline stopped and then reversed soon after the introduction of ridesharing into U.S. cities, the researchers claim.
The study’s authors say this increase in fatal collisions is due to a “quantity effect” caused by increased numbers of vehicles on the road, which invariably equates to higher rates of accidents. And it’s not only the people who use Uber services that are affected—FARS data indicates that pedestrians, bystanders and cyclists are also injured and killed in ridesharing accidents.
Additional research needed on ride-hailing
The research team concedes that their findings are based on short-term data, but some critics like economist Joe Cortright say the study falls short. In the City Observer, Cortright states the report raises important and provocative questions, but that it shows more of a correlation rather than causation and doesn’t factor in the effect of lower gasoline prices and increased people on the road.
The study authors do acknowledge the convenience and benefits of ridesharing services, which provide flexible employment for people and a low-cost alternative to regular taxis. Nonetheless, the key takeaway from the research is that there are more people dying in motor vehicle accidents after ride-hailing became popular, and these deaths are mostly occurring in large cities.
Legal guidance in New York and New Jersey
Car accidents often result in personal, financial and emotional upheaval, particularly when serious injury or death occurs. If you or a loved one were injured in a ridesharing accident, it’s imperative to align yourself with a competent law firm. Serving residents of Bergen County, NJ and Rockland County, NY, Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman has the expertise and resources to help victims secure justice and fair legal compensation.
- Stigler Center, Ridesharing and Traffic Fatalities https://research.chicagobooth.edu/-/media/research/stigler/pdfs/workingpapers/27thecostofconvenience.pdf?la=en&hash=A15B1513F98D7A17B9E37F78DD2EBDC4C6338BFA
- Forbes, Ubers And Lyfts May Increase Road Deaths, Study Claims https://www.forbes.com/sites/lianeyvkoff/2018/10/23/ubers-and-lyfts-cause-congestion-in-cities-they-may-also-increase-fatalities/#6d9290eb487f
- City Observer, Unsafe Uber? Lethal Lyft? We’re skeptical http://cityobservatory.org/unsafe-uber-lethal-lyft-were-skeptical/