Traffic fatalities are on the rise in densely populated cities throughout the United States, including Louisiana, and a new study suggests that ridesharing may be partially to blame.
These results may come as an unwelcome surprise to owners and users of ridesharing companies who frequently tout the practice of ridesharing as a way to remove drunk drivers from the road and thereby improve traffic safety. While removing more inebriated drivers may produce the effect of a higher “quality” of drivers on the road, the “quantity effect” of more vehicles on the road cancels out any potential benefit of fewer drunk drivers, according to the study.
In other words, due to the ready availability of ridesharing services, more people in densely populated areas are utilizing rideshare vehicles who would otherwise have used alternatives methods of transportation, such as public transportation, walking or bicycling. More accidents inevitably result from an increase of vehicles on the road.
Distracted driving may also be a factor that decreases the “quality effect” of taking drunk drivers off the road and contributes to the increase of traffic fatalities. Distracted behaviors by rideshare drivers that may contribute to accidents include stopping abruptly to pick up passengers, speeding to pick up the next fare or looking down to check GPS while the vehicle is in motion.
Regardless of the cause-and-effect relationship between ridesharing and accidents, the study demonstrates that, even after controlling for other factors, traffic accidents involving a fatality in U.S. cities has increased 2 to 4 percent each year since ridesharing services such as Uber or Lyft have been in operation.
Unfortunately, collisions involving rideshare vehicles affect bicyclists, pedestrians and bystanders in addition to those who choose to utilize the service. Those who have sustained an injury in an accident involving a rideshare vehicle, regardless of whether or not they were inside the vehicle itself, may find it helpful to consult an attorney regarding accident litigation.