Study Finds Uber, Lyft Contributing to Road Congestion, Traffic Deaths


November 01, 2018

UNITED STATES – October 24, 2018 (usa.streetsblog.org) As reported online by usa.streetsblog.org, a new study from the University of Chicago found that ridesharing companies, like Uber and Lyft, are contributing to road congestion in cities and increased traffic deaths.*

The study looked at data from cities with high use of Uber and Lyft, compared to other cities, and found that cities with high use of ridesharing had more pedestrian deaths, more traffic deaths at night, and more traffic deaths on weekends. The effect was more prominent in bigger cities and in cities with high rates of public transit use. Overall, the study authors found that Uber and Lyft have increased traffic deaths by 2 to 3 percent across the country. This equates to about 1,100 more traffic deaths every year. 

Moreover, while it seems like the companies would have positive effects on traffic congestion and drunk driving, the study authors concluded that cities with high use of Uber and Lyft had 3 percent more total daily miles driven with virtually no change in the number of annual DUIs and drunk driving accidents. Drivers for the companies spend about 40 to 60 percent of their time “deadheading,” or driving without passengers in their vehicles. They circle areas and wait for calls, a practice that Uber and Lyft financially encourage to maintain available drivers. 

In addition, areas with heavy Uber and Lyft presences actually had higher numbers of new vehicle registrations (3 percent), the study found. All of this means more vehicles on the road, driving more miles every day. And more miles driven, the study authors said, mean more traffic deaths.

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