The days of hailing a cab in the Big Apple have given way to the rise of drive share services that pick you up and take you away from the hustle and bustle of Times Square. In fact, ride share services such as Uber seemed poised to replace taxi cabs as the preferred alternative method of transportation for Americans that need a lift home from a bar or a quick trip to the airport.
Is that a good thing? The answer might be a resounding no, if you pay attention to the startling negative news the burgeoning ride share industry has received over the past year.
According to research performed by the New York Post, the number of auto accidents in the New York City statistical area that involved ride share drivers between 2014 and 2016 more than tripled from 534 to 1,672. Also referred to as black cars, ride share vehicles represent the only class of vehicles that experienced an increase in the number of accidents over the same period.
What is Causing Ride Share Accidents?
The increase in ride share vehicle accidents corresponds to the rapid increase in the number of ride share vehicles on the road since the advent of services such as Uber. Yet, how do we explain the five fatalities that involved ride share drivers in New York City during May and June of 2016, when the taxi industry recorded no fatalities during the same period?
Lack of Training
Unlike taxi service drivers, ride share drivers receive little, if any training to handle the daily grind of taking passengers to airports and grocery stores. Ride share drivers often work to supplement income generated from full time professions, and the extra work comes at night, when driving conditions typically are more likely to produce accidents.
What are the other reasons why we are seeing a rising number of ride share accidents?
Apps versus Monitors
Taxicab drivers have a large monitor that sits on the dashboard that alerts them to the next fare. Ride share drivers rely on cell phone applications that notify them of where to pick up the next passenger. Canadian researchers released a study that showed lowering your head to access information on a cell phone while you drive is more dangerous than getting behind the wheel with a blood alcohol content level of .10.
Accessing a ride share app to determine where a ride share driver needs to go next increases the potential for an auto accident.
Lack of Regulations
Taxicab companies must follow a large number of regulations to operate passenger services. However, ride share companies such as Uber face few municipal, state, and federal regulations. This means when a passenger chooses a ride share company to travel home, he or she is likely to ride in the back seat of a vehicle driven by someone who does not follow the same regulatory guidelines that apply to the taxi industry.
In cities such as Des Moines, Iowa, you cannot receive a taxicab permit if you have an operating while under the influence (OWI) conviction on your record over the past 10 years. Ride share drivers do not have to undergo the same legal scrutiny. In fact, ride share drivers never get drug or alcohol tested by the company that employs them. While taxi companies perform background checks, most ride share companies hire independent contractors online, without performing background checks. Taxi companies do not hire felons; ride share companies do not perform background checks to vet felons.
Ride share drivers have no restrictions on the number of companies and accounts for which they perform driving services. Driver fatigue prompted the United State Congress to limit the number of consecutive hours truckers can log behind the wheel of a rig. No such limitations apply to ride share drivers who can work an eight-hour shift at a day job and work tired well into the night.
Taxicab companies typically take care of vehicle maintenance issues. However, that is not the case with ride share companies. For example, Uber drivers use their own vehicles to make money and they are responsible for taking care of vehicle maintenance issues.