Hail Merry

Ride-hailing apps reduce traffic deaths

View of a person in the backseat of a car who's looking at a phone, meant to denote someone using a ride-hailing service.

In a first-of-its-kind analysis of proprietary data from Uber, researchers at Haas and Berkeley have found that the ride-hailing platform has reduced overall U.S. traffic fatalities by about 4% and cut alcohol-related traffic deaths by over 6%— effects that were even larger during nights and weekends.

The research, co-authored by Haas Professor Lucas Davis and Michael Anderson, UC Berkeley professor of agricultural and resource economics, looked at monthly Uber rides from 2012 to 2017 for all 70,000 U.S. census tracts (except Seattle and New York City) combined with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data on all fatal U.S. traffic accidents.

Based on conventional estimates of the value of statistical life, the annual life-saving benefits from ride-hailing services range from $2.3 billion to $5.4 billion. Lyft was still nascent during the study period, but the impact would presumably be even larger if data from Lyft were included in the analysis, Davis says.

“I’m excited about the potential for ride-hailing, automated vehicles, and other new technologies to make driving safer,” says Davis.