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Could ridesharing services be leading to more traffic accidents?

A new study says that ridesharing is causing more traffic deaths due to congestion and distracted driving.

Proponents of ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, often claim that such services make the roads safer to drive on, primarily because they provide a means of transportation for people who otherwise might drive drunk. However, a soon-to-be-released study claims that any safety benefits caused by ridesharing services are more than cancelled out by the risks. That study says that recent increases in fatal car accidents in metropolitan areas are largely being caused by ridesharing apps, which have caused greater congestion, more distracted driving, and have encouraged dangerous driver behaviors.

Rideshares lead to more deaths?

As Forbes reports, the study was performed by researchers at Rice University and the University of Chicago School of Business. The study looked at data from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and CrashStats and compared that data from both before and after ridesharing apps were introduced to U.S. cities.

The study found that even after controlling for other factors, fatal accidents rose by two to four percent after ridesharing services were introduced. In 2010, the year after ridesharing services were introduced, road deaths increased by 987 – or three percent – in the U.S. The study also estimated that ridesharing apps were responsible for roughly $10 billion in economic damage.

More traffic and distractions

Ridesharing companies claim that their services are safer because they get drunk drivers off the road. Indeed, as the Chicago Tribune reports, another study did find that DUI arrests decreased dramatically in cities that introduced ridesharing apps.

However, that safety benefit is being cancelled out by other risks that ridesharing apps lead to. For one, ridesharing apps require a steady supply of available vehicles to be on city streets at all times, which leads to an increase in overall vehicular traffic. That traffic, in turn, leads to an increase in the chance of accidents happening, including with other vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. Rideshare drivers are also more likely to be checking their smartphones, rushing to their next customer, or stopping frequently to pick up customers. These are all behaviors that significantly increase the chance of an accident occurring. Finally, while ridesharing apps do help get drunk drivers off the road, they also get people into cars who may have otherwise walked, biked, or taken public transit – which are all safer methods of transportation than driving and none of which actually increase congestion.

Personal injury law

Anybody who has been hurt in an accident needs to get in touch with a personal injury attorney as soon as they can. Unfortunately, the roads are getting more dangerous and accidents are increasing, often because of distracted or otherwise reckless drivers. A personal injury attorney can help accident victims understand what compensation may be available to them and how to go about pursuing it.

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