Ride sharing apps reduce car accidents, research shows

Transportation | 8 Jan |

The question of whether or not ride share apps reduce the number of car accidents is an interesting one because it could seemingly go either way. Ride share apps put more vehicles on the road, so one could argue that they actually cause some accidents that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. However, they also take impaired drivers off the road, so they prevent hundreds of deaths and billions in economic loss every year through that benefit alone. Here’s an overview of the research that proves ride share apps do, in fact, reduce the number of car accidents.

Accident Reduction Varies By Area

As noted in this recent ride sharing article, a study conducted at Temple University showed that some cities in California saw a 5.6% decrease in drunk driving fatalities from 2009-2014 after the introduction Uber.

However, it’s possible the fatality rate reduction could be even more pronounced in more densely populated areas, as a different study from earlier this year showed that there’s been a 25% to 35% decrease in the number of alcohol-related car accidents in New York City as compared to other cities where ride share apps aren’t available.

Rideshare Apps Definitely Reduce Drunk Driving Fatalities

There’s no question about whether ride share apps take drunk drivers off the road because they provide a simple and convenient form of transportation. Before, a drunk person would need to call a cab or a friend. Or, even worse, they might have to take a bus or train home. None of those are ideal or reliable options for someone who is intoxicated beyond the legal limit.

What if your designated driver doesn’t come through? Or, what if the cab leaves you waiting for 40 minutes and then charges you an arm and a leg? What if you get off in a bad neighborhood because you missed your stop on the train? Ride share apps eliminate all of those inconveniences, which is why they’ve become the top choice for many people who would otherwise have no choice but to drive themselves home drunk.

Preventing Some While Leading to Others

While ride share apps are undoubtedly preventing an untold number of accidents by keeping impaired drivers off of the road, they’ve also increased the number of individual vehicles on the road because someone who might have taken the bus or subway before would now prefer to use an Uber. As a result, approximately 2 percent of the accidents in any given major city involve ride share vehicles. Still, it’s worth noting that such a low percentage also means that ride sharing is still one of the safest methods of transportation. Furthermore, the positive impact that it has by getting impaired drivers off of the road far outweighs the negative impact of increasing traffic in urban areas.

More Cars on the Road But Fewer Crashes Per 1,000 Vehicles

The fact that there are more vehicles on the road than ever before means that the overall number of accidents has increased globally. However, since the advent of ride share apps, the number of accidents per 1,000 vehicles on the road is decreasing. This means that while ride share apps and the continued growth of the automobile industry as a whole are contributing to heavier traffic, the roads are becoming statistically safer in many areas where ride share apps operate.


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