Uber just-released their U.S. Safety Report, and it sets forth in some detail its number of fatal accidents. The good news is that the overall rate per mile is about half the national average. The problem is, that the report makes some strange choices as far as what is included and excluded in the data.
So the way Uber came up with the numbers for the report is by taking its internal reports of crashes that were generated by drivers, users or insurance companies, and compared it to the national Fatality Analysis Reporting System, aka FARS. The FARS database tracks all automotive deaths. Uber was able to confirm 97 fatal crashes with 107 total deaths in 2017 and 2018 combined.
The Numbers Are In
The actual numbers are: In 2017, there were 49 “Uber-related” fatalities over 8.2 billion miles. In 2018, there were 58 over 1.3 billion miles. The national average is more than 1.1 per 100 million, so Uber sees about half as many fatalities per mile overall.
These crashes generally occurred at lower speeds than the national average, and were more likely by far to occur at night, in lighted areas of cities. That makes sense, since rideshare services are heavily weighted toward urban environments and shorter, lower-speed trips.
Sounds pretty promising, but there are some basic issues.
First, there is no mention of the number of non-fatal accidents. True, these accidents are more difficult to track and categorize, but it seems misleading to not include them at all. If the rates of Ubers getting into fender-benders or serious crashes where someone gets injured but no fatality, are also lower than the national average, as what is more than likely the case with the fatality rates, why not mention so?
When asked, an Uber spokesperson said that non-fatal crashes are just not as well defined or tracked. Certainly not to the extent that fatal crashes are, which makes reporting difficult. It makes sense, but we’re still missing an important piece here.
Second, interestingly enough, Uber has its own definition of what constitutes an “Uber-related” crash. Naturally enough, this includes whenever a driver is picking up a rider or has a rider in their car. All the miles and crashes mentioned above are either en route to a pickup or during a ride.
Should ‘Deadheading’ Count
Keeping that in mind, it’s well known that drivers also spend a very fair amount of time “deadheading,” which is cruising around waiting to get a fare. Exactly how much time spent doing so is difficult to estimate. It differs widely based on time of day, but it doesn’t make sense that Uber’s excludes this time. In comparison, taxi drivers are still on the clock when they are cruising for fares, and Uber drivers must travel to and from destinations, keep moving to get to hot spots and so on.
It’s entirely possible that the time spent deadheading isn’t much, and that the accidents that occurred during that time are few in number. But the alternatives are also possible, and I think it’s important for Uber to disclose this data; cities and riders alike are concerned with the effects of ride-hail services on traffic and such, and the cars don’t simply disappear or stop getting in accidents when they’re not hired.
We at The Inserra Law Firm want to let you know that if you had an accident or injury with an Uber or Lyft, and you need a quality attorney to represent you or a loved one in a similar situation, then please look to set up a FREE consultation at the law office in Hollywood. Don’t forget that Attorney Inserra specializes in: auto accidents, Uber & Lyft accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, bicycle accidents, boat accidents, slip & falls, pedestrian accidents, wrongful death, burn injuries & head & traumatic brain injuries.