THE UNITED STATES – According to a techcrunch.com news report, the ridesharing company Uber released its safety report. However, traffic safety experts questioned Uber’s low fatal accident rates after noticing “key data” was excluded from the company’s safety report. Uber’s Safety Report claims the company’s overall fatal accident rate per mile is nearly half of the national average. However, Uber’s Safety Report is under fire by safety advocates because of the strange data reported and left out of the report.
Uber published its annual Safety Report, which was based on the company’s internal reports of accidents provided by its users, drivers, and insurance companies, and then the company compared that data with the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database. FARS tracks all of the fatal automobile accidents in the United States.
Uber’s safety report stated that only 97 fatal accidents occurred, leading to 107 deaths in 2017 and 2018 combined. In its Safety Report, Uber noted that 36,000 people lost their lives in 2018 due to fatal car accidents in the United States. However, Uber’s fatal accident rate does not account for the average speed of a customer’s ride or total miles traveled when making its comparisons to national averages.
For example, the number of fatal accidents per 100 million miles driven in the United States is about 1%. In 2018, there were 58 “Uber-related” fatal accidents in about 1.3 billion miles driven. So, Uber had an average of 0.57 fatal accidents per 100 million miles driven. According to Uber, the company’s drivers beat the national average by nearly 50%.
Although the number of fatal Uber driver accidents per 100 million miles driven beat the national average, the numbers are misleading. This is due to the fact that most Uber rides are significantly weighted toward city driving, where there are lower speed limits, shorter trips, and streets that are well lit. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding is the number one cause of fatal accidents worldwide.
Some safety advocates also feel that Uber’s Safety Report is misleading since statistics regarding non-fatal accidents were not included in the report. One important question raised by safety advocates is, “If Uber’s accident rate was better than the national average, why wouldn’t Uber report it?
According to the news report, an Uber spokesperson was asked why non-fatal crashes were not tracked or provided in the annual safety report. Critics of the report stated that fatal accidents are rare events and that non-fatal accidents would present better insights into the company’s safety record.
Another point of concern is the way that Uber defines an “Uber-related” accident. It is reasonable to provide crash data regarding accidents involving customers. However, Uber drivers also log millions of miles getting to new “pick-ups” and driving around while waiting for a pick-up. Although it is not clear if Uber was intentionally trying to manipulate its accident data to cast a positive safety record, many safety experts who read the report were left feeling Uber’s Safety Report lacked sincerity.
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