The rideshare industry has become mainstream for the past few years, with recent technological advances letting people hire a car at the swipe of a finger and tap of a button.
A Statista survey in 2017 indicated that 53 percent of people used ridesharing services, with Uber and Lyft being the most significant companies utilized in the U.S.
While ridesharing services act similarly to public transportation, there are many different regulations which is why some cities and counties have sought to regulate or prohibit ridesharing services from operating in their jurisdictions.
In an effort to find the relationship between ridesharing and traffic safety, researchers from the University of Chicago and Rice University compared official statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with the dates when ridesharing companies launched their services across different cities and communities.
They took a look at different factors such as the accident rates in those cities per vehicle miles traveled, the amount of gas consumed in those areas, the time they spent in traffic, and the number of new cars they registered.
In general, they concluded that an increase of 2-3 percent in fatal car crashes occurred after the arrival of ridesharing in a city.
These services' unique characteristics should be considered to understand how the utilization of ridesharing services changes the nature of traffic accidents.
Increase in Vehicles on the Road
Accident increases are more common in large cities with high populations.
County or municipals typically limit the number of point-to-point transportation vehicles, but because of the availability of ride-sharing services, this will more likely increase the number of vehicles on the road.
As people are given more transportation options, clogged roads and a higher probability of motor vehicle accidents could take place.
Different Standards for Drivers for Hire
While ridesharing vehicles operate similarly to a vehicle-for-hire service such as taxis and limousines, ridesharing drivers hold traditional private driver’s licenses not a commercial driver’s license.
Unlike a non-commercial vehicle driver, drivers with commercial licenses are required to undergo a more intensive licensing process with background checks, vehicle-specific tests, a thorough driver history examination, and medical certification.
As driving a passenger vehicle is a big responsibility that requires special skills and knowledge, an intricate licensing process is necessary to reduce the likelihood of driver error and accidents.
Change the Likelihood of Dangerous Driver Conditions
Ridesharing services enable individuals to use their service instead of driving themselves, which decreases the likelihood of motor vehicle accidents occurring due to drunk driving.
Drunk driving has always been a concern across the nation causing 29% of all car accident fatalities. However, some studies claimed that drunk driving deaths fell since the availability of mobile ridesharing services.
A study by the University of California at Davis and Moll Law Group found that mobile ridesharing apps led to a decrease in the number of DUI (driving under the influence) arrests across 10 different cities.
However, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that the effect of ridesharing in drunk driving is ambiguous.
While there was a decline in drunk driving while ridesharing services are available, there’s no evidence that these services are the cause of fewer total injury crashes or fewer serious accidents.
While ridesharing services are said to decrease the chances of drunk driving accidents, there’s still the matter of distracted driving. Ridesharing drivers are more likely to be distracted drivers. They usually have their phones mounted to their dashboards with their ridesharing app open.
A ridesharing app is commonly used to notify drivers of potential clients which often requires to be accepted or declined as soon as possible.
It’s also used for contacting potential passengers. Whereas taxi drivers typically use radio dispatch for communications, rideshare drivers require a phone to communicate with potential clients directly.
Drivers who don’t want to risk losing money and fewer client opportunities in the future immediately attempt to respond and use their phone whether or not they’re on the road.
However, whether the phone is hands-free or not, having a phone mounted on the dashboard will naturally divert a driver’s eyes to the screen and off the road which increases the chances of being involved in an accident.
No matter the change ridesharing services contributed to traffic and road safety, the bottom line stays the same: ridesharing accidents are complicated. There’s always a concern regarding settlements as it can be unclear if the ridesharing company’s policy will step in first or that of the driver.
Sorting out liability and settlements for these sorts of incidents can be a lengthy and complicated process. Insurance companies have teams of lawyers to ensure the company pays out as little as possible.
Should you or your loved ones find yourselves this situation, hiring a skilled and experienced attorney that has experience with Ridesharing Accidents can help get you the compensation you deserve.