Uber and Lyft often get a bad name in New York and other cities. Incidents that get the media’s attention range from drivers assaulting women to drivers not always making the minimum wage. One new topic circulating in the media that may affect public opinion of rideshare companies is the increased risk of fatal crashes in the cities they operate in.
Business Insider reports that beforerideshare companies hit the streets in U.S. cities, America was experiencing record lowes in fatal crashes. In 2010, total traffic fatalities dipped to 32,885, just before rideshare services became more popular and began to expand.
Researchers found that the introduction of rideshare services coincided with a 2% to 3% increase in traffic fatalities. While the two coincide, researchers say that this does not necessarily mean cause and effect, as other factors may also be at play.
Uber and Lyft reportedly both rejected the findings as flawed and reasserted their commitment to road safety. One economist also questioned the findings and pointed out that lower gas prices during the time period studied contributed to people driving more than the previous years.
More recently, MarketWatch alsocommented on the study. It cites an estimate from the study stating that the economic cost of human lives lost in traffic accidents total about $10 billion. It also points out the potential caveats of the study, including not determining whether crashes were caused by or at least involved rideshare drivers. There is also the fact that an increase in larger vehicles on the road has led to a greater possibility of accidents becoming fatal.
The researchers insist that the study is not an attack on rideshare services and acknowledge that they have brought benefits to the cities they serve. Nevertheless, they stand by their findings and the methodology used to obtain them. It is not clear how New York may factor this into its considerations for improving congestion in Manhattan and other busy areas.