A Significant Gap in Rideshare Reporting
If you have ever seen an Uber or Lyft driver on the streets of Chicago and found yourself wondering how safe they are compared to other services, you are not alone. With rideshare services carving out a market for themselves among existing taxicabs and public transportation systems, there is a surprisingly small amount of data available on how many rideshare vehicles are involved in accidents. In fact, if there is any such data at all, it is incredibly difficult to find.
A Gap in Reporting
The Chicago Tribune's RedEye publication attempted their own investigation into the matter. They found that the major issue with getting accident data concerning rideshare programs is that there is no accident data concerning rideshare programs. Chicago police officer Jose Estrada told RedEye that "There is no check box designating rideshare vehicles or taxicabs on the traffic crash report," which prevents easy recording or tracking of accidents involving them. RedEye did attempt to contact Uber and Lyft directly to find any data on their end. However, if the companies track accidents involving their vehicles, they were unwilling to release that data for the article.
There are still ways to track taxi accidents, however. The Illinois Department of Transportation is able to monitor trends specific to taxis because they use specific state-issued plates and have traceable medallion numbers. IDOT reports that, in 2014, Chicago saw 4,129 accidents involving taxis, of which 830 caused injuries and 3 were fatal. Rideshare vehicles have nothing from the state to designate them as distinct from normal passenger cars, largely because they actually are normal passenger cars, which makes it impossible to run a similar tracking system on them. Their size and intended purpose also prevents them from being recorded as commercial vehicles in official accident reports. The result of this is that, as far as the city or state are concerned, the only way to indicate if an accident involved a rideshare vehicle is in fields intended for notes about the accident or plates. This method is helpful, but using it at all is a matter of the reporting officer's discretion.
Accountability for Rideshares
Both Uber and Lyft offer customer service options for reporting accidents involving their drivers. Both companies also provide insurance for the duration of a customer's trip with them, though the details on this insurance varies. Rideshare customers are encouraged to make full use of these options, especially in the event of an accident. However, if you or a loved one is injured in an accident while using rideshare services and you have any questions or concerns, or if the company and provided insurance is not treating your case with the respect and concern you deserve, ensure that you have an experienced car accident law firm on your side.