Taxi alternatives like Uber could raise car crash risk

When Massachusetts drivers take to the roads, it is with the understanding that there are inherent risks involved in any form of automotive travel. This is especially true today, when more and more people are sharing the roadways, many of whom are distracted by one form of technology or the other. The risk of being involved in a car crash caused by distracted driving has never been higher, and many believe that a new business application for cell phones is making matters even worse.

Some readers may be familiar with Uber, a company that connects individuals who need a ride with drivers willing to provide transportation for a fee. Uber, along with others such as Lyft and Flywheel, allows people to make extra money by essentially working as amateur taxi drivers. In order to get fares, drivers must be online when a passenger is looking for a good match. In fact, after Uber sends a text message with the passenger's location and desired destination, drivers have only 15 seconds in which to respond.

That means that an Uber driver must think about where he or she is currently located in relation to the passenger, calculate how far the destination is and make a decision as to whether or not to accept the fare. All of this must be done within 15 seconds, and often while already driving. It is easy to see how this pressure to respond immediately could lead to an increased risk of being involved in an accident.

It is important for Massachusetts drivers to be aware of the risks posed by others who may be driving while distracted. Unfortunately, even the most careful of drivers have little control over the actions of others. This means that, in order to lower one's risk of being involved in a serious car crash, it is necessary to pay close attention to the driving patterns of others at all times while on the road.

Source:, "Distracted driving and the risks of ride-hailing services like Uber", Dec. 21, 2014