The use of ridesharing services has swept across the nation in recent years with Uber and Lyft as two of the major players in the industry. All that is required to use these services is an easily downloadable application, your credit card information, and a simple request for a ride at any time. While there are certainly significant benefits available to Oklahoma customers using these services, it is also important to understand that these drivers are not provided any unique training for the job they do. They are subject to becoming involved in an accident or a victim of an accident the same as any other driver on the road.
Ridesharing equals decreased safety on the road?
Ridesharing is often proclaimed as a means of enhancing traffic safety due to the fact that it removes potential inebriated drivers from getting behind the wheel. However, some new research suggests the opposite trend is occurring – that is, these services are increasing accident rates and also producing roughly $10 billion in economic losses from roadway fatalities each year. These findings are detailed in preliminary conclusions shared with Forbes from a soon-to-be published document put together by several researchers.
As they studied the effect ridesharing is having on the number of fatal accidents occurring each year, researchers from Rice University and University of Chicago School of Business came to an unexpected determination.
The study’s findings
The researchers studied data made available from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and CrashStats that covered the time period prior to and after the introduction of ridesharing companies in the United States. These economists discovered a 2 to 4 percent increase in fatal accidents each year, even after accounting for other factors. In 2010, 32,885 motor vehicle fatalities occurred in the U.S. Using a 3 percent annual increase in fatal accidents (on average), this equates to nearly 1,000 additional lives lost each year.
The cause for this increase in fatal accidents is referred to by the researchers as the “quantity effect” that occurs in a sharing economy. In other words, as the quantity of vehicles on the road increases, accidents will also increase. The roadways become more populated and more miles are driven – both factors lead to an inevitable increase in the number of accidents. In addition, those who incur the risk of collisions are not simply those who drive or ride in an Uber or Lyft vehicle, but also bystanders, cyclists, and pedestrians.
This “quantity effect,” according to the researchers’ conclusions, is negating any potential “quality effect” of having a lower number of intoxicated drivers on the roads. Another important fact is that prior to the introduction of ridesharing services, many individuals utilized alternative transportation methods, especially in densely populated cities. Therefore, for every person removed who would have driven a vehicle under intoxication, there is a person who, before ridesharing services were available, would have used traditional public transportation (i.e. buses, subways), biked, or walked.
As well, the problem of distracted driving must be considered. Ridesharing drivers in OK and around the nation are subject to becoming distracted consistently due to their constant use of GPS. This combined with the need to race to get to the next fare on time can lead to unintended accidents involving ridesharing vehicles.
At Cunningham & Mears, our experienced Oklahoma City Uber and Lyft accident attorneys have more than five decades of combined experience filing legal claims against liable parties and successfully collecting insurance settlements for our clients. We are here to help you if you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of a ridesharing driver in Oklahoma, or any other responsible party to your accident. To set up a free, initial consultation about your case, call us today at 405.212.9234 or complete our contact form.
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Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More