The availability of Uber, Lyft, and other such ridesharing services can theoretically boost one’s safety in various circumstances. For example, perhaps you’ve had more to drink than you planned to after a night partying with friends. If you know you have the option to easily schedule an Uber or Lyft, you might be less inclined to make the mistake of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Scheduling an Uber or Lyft may also be a safer option than walking home at night in a dangerous area.
However, these services are still fairly new. It is therefore unclear whether they have played a generally positive or generally negative role in our safety.
Some early research indicates ridesharing services may have actually contributed to an increase in motor vehicle accident rates throughout the country. While this research is not without its detractors, who believe the methodology behind it is inherently flawed, it is worthy of our attention.
A few years ago, researchers from the University of Chicago and Rice University in Houston, Texas sought to determine whether ridesharing services influence accident rates by gathering data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and comparing it with data from Uber and Lyft regarding when and where they launched their services in recent years.
The general findings of their research indicate that accidents tend to become more common in cities once Uber and Lyft become available. The researchers also found that this trend appeared to be more pronounced in cities where large numbers of citizens have historically relied upon public transportation.
One theory the researchers proposed to account for this trend suggests that those who relied on public transportation began using ridesharing services in increasing numbers. This gave rise to an increase in demand for ridesharing services drivers, which also yielded an increase in overall traffic density. Quite simply, the more motor vehicles there are on the road, the more chances there are for accidents to occur.
Again, though, there are some who criticize this study. For example, some have pointed out that in the times and places the study focused on, gas prices tended to be lower than usual. This has been shown to correlate with an increase in traffic. Once more, if traffic congestion is high, chances for accidents to happen to tend to rise. Additionally, rural areas where Uber and Lyft typically remained unavailable during the years the study focused on saw an even greater increase in accidents than urban areas.
Essentially, it remains unclear exactly whether Uber and Lyft are generally making American motorists and pedestrians safer or less safe. That said, accidents can occur in any motor vehicle, whether it’s one you’re driving or one being driven by an Uber or Lyft driver.
Review your case with a Los Angeles Uber and Lyft accident attorney if you’re ever harmed in such an accident. A member of our team at Okabe & Haushalter will explain your legal options regarding financial compensation. Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online or calling us at 310-430-7799.