We would have assumed that with fewer cars on the road, ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft would have helped decrease the number of traffic deaths. But a 2018 study from University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, there are some unforeseen ride sharing risks. In fact, these services have contributed to a 2%-3% increase in traffic deaths.
Reporting on the risk of ride-sharing
In “The Cost of Convenience: Ridesharing and Traffic Fatalities,” authors John M. Barrios (University of Chicago), Yael V. Hochberg (Rice University), and Livia Hanyi Yi (Rice University), claim that since 2011, roughly 1,100 deaths could be attributed to ride sharing companies in the U.S.
The report (cite below) states: “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.”
Why the increase in traffic deaths?
After looking at the data, the authors note a number of ride sharing risks that contribute to traffic accidents.
The biggest increases occurred in large cities, where ride sharing also put more cars on the road despite the presence of public transportation. An increase in new vehicles leads to more congestion on the streets, which is correlated with more accidents.
According to the Booth School of Business: “Evaluating the effect of ride sharing on driver quality is complicated, according to the researchers. An increase in high-quality ride-share drivers could offset increased VMT and potentially reduce accident rates; however, while some poor drivers may substitute ride sharing for driving, other passengers may be skilled drivers who simply enjoy the convenience. At the same time, lesser-quality drivers may be tempted to drive for ride-sharing services.”
The cost of the increase in accidents is estimated to be $5.33 billion to $13.24 billion per year.
Of course, there are benefits to ride sharing: “These include improved mobility for the disabled and for minorities, flexible job opportunities that are especially valuable to those otherwise at high risk of unemployment, and customer convenience and resulting consumer surplus.” — WTF fun facts