Uber and Lyft may increase your chances of being in a fatal traffic accident, study suggests. How can you protect yourself?
Does simply using a rideshare, even with a driver with an exceptional rating, put you at greater risk of dying in a car accident?
Yes…or at least that’s what one new study suggests.
While the overall US car accident fatality rate has plummeted since the 1980s, it appears as though ridesharing had a 2-3% higher chance of resulting in a fatality from 2011 – 2016.
A 2018 study by John Barrios from the University of Chicago, Yael V. Hochberg of Rice University, and Livia Hanyi Yi also from Rice University made this finding.
This increase was found in both rideshare users and pedestrians.
Why Is This Happening?
What causes this?
Are rideshare drivers and passengers simply too eager to get to their destinations?
But this study didn’t find that to be the cause of the higher ridesharing fatality rates.
The study found these higher fatality rates in large cities with already congested roads, cities with already high reliance on public transportation, as well as more impoverished cities (based on per-capita income).
Now, it’s important to understand that these higher fatality rates in cities with certain factual characteristics are only correlational.
A “correlational” relationship just means that when you see something happen in one variable (traffic fatalities), it does not mean that another observed variable (the city characteristics mentioned) causes it.
The two simply seem to have a relationship such that when one changes, so does the other.
But the reason why they have any relationship at all isn’t known yet.
One theory proposed by the study is that more people shifted from public transportation to rideshare use on already clogged roads.
So that simply makes high-traffic roads have even more traffic. And that increases the fatality rate.
The study also openly admits “our documented effects alone are unlikely to fully explain” the increase in traffic fatality rates.
But it also concludes “the annual cost in human lives is non-trivial.”
In response, Uber argued they increase safety by reducing drunk driving.
So truthfully, no one really knows exactly what’s going on here.
What Should You Do With this Information?
It’s important to note that rideshare services themselves aren’t accused of irresponsibility in the way they operate.
Neither are the drivers being accused of negligence.
Simply the very nature of using rideshare services in cities with certain conditions present is all that’s needed, it appears.
So, what do you do with that?
Follow these rideshare safety tips from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Or could you just avoid using rideshare services if your city appears to meet the conditions mentioned by the researchers?
Only you can choose.
For now, at least you have more data from which to make an informed decision.