Study: Ride-sharing might lead to increase in traffic crashes

Prior to the rise of ride-sharing services in St. Louis and other major U.S. cities, traffic fatalities were at the lowest point in more than 50 years. But the emergence of Uber and Lyft might have contributed to an increase in fatal car crashes in cities where the services operate, authors of a new study have said.

Researchers from the University of Chicago and Rice University said that the data shows that in the eight years since Uber and Lyft began aggressively expanding, there has been a significant increase in traffic fatalities.

In the years before 2010, motor vehicle crash deaths were at record lows, the authors of the soon-to-be-published study state. Nationwide, traffic fatalities were at their lowest since 1949. But that year, the two ride-sharing services began spreading.

“The arrival of ridesharing is associated with an increase of 2-3 percent in the number of motor vehicle fatalities and fatal accidents,” the authors of the study said in their paper.

The researchers used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and then looked at when ride-sharing began in specific cities. They also looked at accident rates in those metro areas as measured per vehicle mile traveled (VMT).

According to a recent article on the study, the researchers found that VMT rose dramatically in San Francisco after Uber launched there in 2010. An unrelated New York study shows that ride-share drivers travel an average of 2.8 miles between fares, which contributes to the VMT increase.

The authors of the paper state that once ride-sharing starts in a city, it “leads to an economically meaningful increase in overall motor vehicle fatalities.” However, it should be noted that the researchers concede that “may be too soon to tell whether the effect we document is a short-term adjustment or a longer-term pattern.”

Uber and Lyft both dismiss the study as “deeply flawed.”

Those who lose a loved one in a car crash, or who are injured by a negligent driver, should know that health and financial well-being can be protected by an attorney experienced in personal injury litigation.