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Sociologists measured traffic safety patterns to learn if Uber has made things better or worse

Sociologists measured traffic safety patterns to learn if Uber has made things better or worse
[Photo: Charles Deluvio/Unsplash]

Uber decreases drunk driving, right? And that makes roads safer? Who knows! A trio of U.K., Italian, and American researchers looked into it.

Their study finds that Uber reduces serious road injuries (think fractures and internal injuries) by 9%.

So, is Uber overall good for public safety? Well, that’s a more mixed answer. The number of serious accidents and fatalities did not change. The researchers think that’s because ride-hailing prevents drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel, but it also means more wheels: Uber increases overall cars on the road because it tends to snag passengers who otherwise might take public transit. This also explains why minor injuries such as sprains and bruises increased in London after Uber’s rollout.

In short: It’s a mixed bag. Fewer drunk drivers but more cars.

In London this question could be moot, because in November, Uber lost its license to operate there altogether, following repeated incidences of drivers faking their identities. Uber has appealed the decision.

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