Drivers working with Uber are responsible for a 3% increase in traffic fatalities. This is according to an in-depth study into accidents in major U.S. cities. This percentage equals more than 1,100 deaths. The report also revealed that Uber drivers in New York City get involved in more accidents than traditional cab drivers.
Given that Uber makes around 23 million rides per day in the U.S., it is no surprise at all. Unfortunately, the impact of these Uber accidents extends beyond just the drivers. It affects victims, their families, Uber itself, and local state economies.
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The Impact on Uber Drivers
To say that Uber drivers are to blame for all Uber accidents is not entirely fair. Accidents happen every day and for many reasons. Reckless drivers skip red lights. Pedestrians don’t watch where they walk and stumble into the road.
However, Uber drivers often work long hours without taking a break. They drive while fatigued, which increases the risk of causing an accident. This shouldn’t happen, but it does. Most Uber drivers keep driving past their allotted hours because they want or need extra income. In most cases, this means they don’t consider the risk of fatigue until it is too late. Also, many drivers become distracted by their smartphones or unruly passengers.
Whatever the reason for the accident, the impact is often devastating for the driver. Drivers involved in serious car crashes often suffer catastrophic injuries. They become paralyzed or sustain brain damage. In some cases, even though Uber drivers may not be at fault for accidents, they suffer the most consequences. These include unaffordable medical bills and long-term health issues. Drivers who are gravely injured often require round-the-clock care and mental health support. Some may never work again because of this.
Fortunately, an Uber driver involved in an accident may qualify for worker’s compensation. They may also be covered by Uber’s third-party liability insurance.
Impact on Other Parties
Uber accidents usually involve several parties. These include the driver, passengers, and bystanders or pedestrians. Injured passengers can file a claim for damages as they would do after any other accident. However, they must first establish who was at fault for the crash. A driver’s active or inactive status plays a role in determining responsibility. So, a passenger who wants to claim must prove that the driver (or another party) was at fault.
Additionally, injured parties often also suffer devastating consequences after an Uber accident. Injuries can cause long-term damage. Unexpected medical bills can have a massive impact on a victim’s financial stability. Accident victims may become disabled. This prevents them from returning to work or earning an income. On top of this, some may experience PTSD or chronic anxiety. Social isolation and depression are also common after a traumatic accident.
Impact on State Economies
The impact of Uber accidents also reaches state economies. Any increase in severe crashes directly leads to increased medical services demand. In small cities, this demand may overwhelm healthcare systems. An increase in accidents can also put a strain on emergency services. If this accident trend continues, it may result in higher-than-normal healthcare costs. It could also lead to increased insurance premiums for everyone.
Moreover, many accident victims cannot return to work for weeks or months. This causes a dip in business productivity and economic output. It may not seem logical that one accident could have this effect. However, it is crucial to consider how many Uber accidents happen per state. For example, New York City experiences thousands of Uber crashes annually. Injuries and disabilities from these crashes compound the local economy.
Uber accidents also have other further-reaching implications. If a high-profile person is injured in an Uber crash, it will automatically damage Uber’s reputation. It could even damage the reputation of the city or state itself. These incidents can also lead to decreased tourism and fewer investments.
There is also the legal cost to consider. Government agencies, insurance providers, and lawyers may get involved in ridesharing accidents. This may cause a lack of resources in other parts of the economy.
Is It Possible to Reduce Uber and Other Rideshare Accidents?
There are a few ways the U.S. government can intervene to help reduce rideshare accidents in the country. It could impose even stricter regulations to ensure drivers follow safe driving practices. It could also create new driver education programs. These should focus on the inherent dangers of distracted driving and speeding.
Some have suggested that the government’s public awareness campaigns are lacking. These campaigns follow the same lane as education programs and help educate all drivers on driving responsibly.
But these efforts may only work if these campaigns include incentives. For instance, if a driver receives a reward for an excellent driving record, it may inspire them to continue driving safely. Additionally, there should be more comprehensive inspections of ridesharing vehicles. Many rideshare cars are not roadworthy, which means they can break down or malfunction. Drivers must find safety issues before they cause an accident.
Furthermore, a limit on driving hours may reduce fatigue. However, this may cause internal conflict between Uber and its drivers. Most drivers want to drive a certain number of hours every week to supplement their income. In this case, the preferred solution must suit both parties.
What Lies Ahead in 2024?
Whatever happens, the country needs new and effective solutions soon. Uber launched its first driverless rides in 2024, which is amazing, technologically speaking. But this innovation also creates more opportunities for accidents. While drivers will have 24/7 customer support in a driverless Uber vehicle, many things could still go wrong. Driverless cars have stalled in peak-hour traffic or moved towards emergency scenes like fires. They have also already been involved in accidents, including hit-and-runs. These driverless cars may be involved in incidents caused by human drivers and pedestrians.
The future of driverless Uber cars remains somewhat shrouded. This is because the technology is still very new. However, a lot more effort is needed to avoid an even higher accident rate on U.S. roads.