Ride trips increase the number of collisions for motorists and pedestrians at pickup and delivery sites, reports a new study from researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. This study is the first to use data for traveling by individual vehicles, rather than comparing cities where riding a vehicle is available for those who are not available. This finding was published in the journal Injury Prevention.
Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death globally, and every year around 1.3 million people die on the road. In the U.S., 33,654 people were killed in 2018, and 2.3 million others were injured.
Ride services, such as Uber and Lyft, have facilitated more than 11 billion trips in the US since operations began in 2010. Several studies have identified that alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents are reduced when call-up services are available in the city, but these studies also found no change in the overall number of accidents.
The team from Columbia Mailman School, together with collaborators from Oxford University in England, used data for 372 million hail trips in New York City for 2017 and 2018. They identified the area of the city where motor vehicle accidents occurred, and then counted the number of ride trips vehicles originating nearby at the time of the accident and comparing them to the number of trips riding vehicles originating from the same location one week before the accident and one week afterwards. They carry out the same procedure for taxis, and separate accidents according to injured people – motorcyclists, pedestrians, and cyclists.
The results showed that the increase in ride was related to the increase in accidents where motorists and pedestrians were injured. They did not find any links for bikers who went on strike or for taxi trips.
“Ridesharing is changing the way we move around cities,” said Christopher Morrison, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School, and first author of the study. “It is increasingly clear that this technology reduces alcohol-related crashes, but this benefit does not seem to extend to the total number of crashes. This finding helps explain why this might happen – because the reduction in alcohol-related accidents is not offset by an increase in other types of accidents. “
The authors suggest that cities and companies riding bicycles can use this information to help prevent injuries. “There are so many daily rideshare trips in our city, even a small change in risk can have a big impact on the total number of injuries,” Morrison said. “In crowded areas with lots of rideshare pick-ups and drop-offs, cities can consider installing taxi-style infrastructure to protect pedestrians and prevent accidents.”
Reference: April 6, 2020, Injury Prevention.
This research was funded by grants from the National Center for Injury and Prevention Control, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (R49CE003094) and the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (K01AA026327).
Co-authors include Christina Mehranbod, Muhire Kwizera, Andrew Rundle, and Katherine Keyes, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health; and David Humphreys, Oxford University.
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