Just before New Year’s Eve – easily the booziest holiday of the year – New York State uncovered a litany of insurance laws that effectively outlaw the practice of ride sharing. This comes at a devastating loss to a vast group of people, from app owners, who are losing a significant area of service, to regional drivers, who lose another opportunity to earn cash, to riders, who no longer have a fast, convenient means of transport.
Around the country, city and state legislatures are beginning to question whether ridesharing is safe. However, users of ridesharing apps consistently clamor that the service is the transit of the future. Fortunately for business owners, drivers, and ride share users, it seems that ride sharing is indeed a smart and safe means of transportation, and it should continue to be as policies and technologies develop.
Ride Sharing Engenders Road Safety
The more cars there are on the roads, the more chances there are for disastrous collisions. The simple concept of probability is why automobile accidents are so much more common than plane crashes: While there are at most about 5,000 planes, the global number of cars and trucks has already surpassed 1 billion. On average, there are over 3,000 deaths and 50 million injuries on the road every day, so every automobile is a potential health hazard.
Ride sharing helps cut down on the number of cars on the road, decreasing congestion, and limiting the possibilities for harmful collisions. In fact, ride sharing is particularly popular amongst the intoxicated, which means communities that allow ride sharing business to operate are likely to have fewer drivers under the influence. Inarguably, providing intoxicated people an alternative to driving home drunk and high is a significant boon for the ride sharing service.
Some regions are concerned less with overall road safety and more with individual security of passengers. For example, Austin was among the first cities to pass legislation mandating extensive criminal background checks for ride share drivers in the hopes of reducing the likelihood of kidnapping, theft, or assault on passengers. Yet, emerging studies on the issue have found that risks to passengers are no greater than they are in traditional taxis; if anything, their cashless payment system and digital documentation lower the risk of violent crime.
Ride Sharing Is More Sustainable
Additionally, fewer cars and more ride sharing is a remarkable win for the environment. As concern over climate change climbs, more citizens are becoming interested in any way they can cut down on their environmental impact. Carpooling has long been touted as one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions, but rarely have carpooling initiatives found much success. Ride sharing is effectively paid carpooling since users are riding in a shared vehicle instead of driving their own. Ride sharing requires less fuel and emits fewer pollutants than the most likely alternative – everyone driving a private vehicle – which is unequivocally good for the environment.
Some ride sharing companies have even more progressive plans for sustainable services. For example, RideCell has developed software to help ride sharing businesses build their apps, but thanks to a partnership with BMW, the company might become a pioneer of autonomous fleets in the coming years. Autonomous vehicles are dramatically more efficient than human drivers for a dozen reasons, including their superior engines and their attention to fuel use. Though the widespread use of driverless cars often raises more questions about safety, it is likely that autonomous fleets will have less environmental impact than traditional automobiles.
Ride Sharing Is a Smart Market
Ride sharing has always been by and for the people. Long before startups like Uber and Lyft developed apps to facilitate (and profit from) the service, citizens and cities built their own low-tech ride sharing organizations to combat traffic and other harmful effects of commuting.
Though businesses have built ride sharing into a larger market, it is still largely controlled by average people. Not only do users choose whether they will ride share or not, but they also decide when they need a ride and which app to use.
Meanwhile, drivers have control over their vehicles and their routes, and they can even decide whether they will accept a certain passenger. It is this degree of individual power that has allowed ride sharing to nearly overtake other forms of transit. Cities can hardly expect citizens to accept the prohibition of ride sharing when it promises such outstanding opportunities for growth.