Ridesharing and Auto Collisions

June 21, 2021 by

The increased use of ridesharing apps appears to be associated with a decrease in motor vehicle collisions and impaired driving convictions.

That’s according to research by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The findings based on data from Houston were published in JAMA Surgery.

The study found that rideshare volume had a significant correlation with the incidence of motor vehicle-related trauma, with a reduction in the rate of incidence by one-third for every 1,000 rides. The rate continued to drop as more rides occurred.

The age group with the most significant decrease in motor vehicle-related trauma were those under the age of 30, with a reduction rate of almost 39%.

Impaired driving convictions also reduced in the years following the introduction of Uber into Houston. Before 2014, there were an average of 22.5 impaired driving convictions in Houston daily. After 2014, impaired driving convictions decreased to an average of 19 per day.

“I think this was the biggest takeaway from the study. The data shows that ridesharing companies can decrease these incidents because they give young people an alternative to driving drunk,” said Christopher Conner, MD, PhD, lead author. Conner is neurosurgery resident in the Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

He said he hopes the results will allow people to see that anyone can be affected by a motor vehicle collision, but that they do have another option that has been proven to reduce their risk of injury, death, or impaired driving conviction.

The research is timely as more individuals are utilizing ridesharing apps, according to Conner.

“Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death and disability among young people, so anything we can do to reduce those incidents is going to have a massive effect,” he said.

The greatest number of motor vehicle collisions occurred on Friday and Saturday nights between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. Comparing the date from before and after 2014 revealed an almost 24% decrease in motor vehicle collision traumas and the number of impaired driving convictions during those hours.

For the study, researchers asked rideshare app companies that were in Houston as early as 2014 to supply their utilization rates. Uber responded, submitting data from 2014 through 2018. They also used data from the Red Duke Trauma Institute at Memorial Hermann Hospital-Texas Medical Center and Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital in Houston as well as data on impaired driving convictions from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office from 2007-2019, limited to cases resulting in a conviction or probation.