Is Having Uber in Phoenix a Good Thing?
By Zachary Mushkatel on May 3, 2017
Phoenix was among the first cities in the country to have Uber drivers. The ride-sharing service began to operate in the Valley back in 2012.
If you are not familiar with Uber, here is a brief explanation:
The ride-sharing service allows people to hail rides by using an app on their smartphones. The drivers use their own cars. Riders pay through an Uber account – not in cash.
When a trip ends, a rider can give the driver a rating of between one to five stars. The driver can rate the rider as well. According to Uber, this “feedback system” helps to “foster a community of respect and accountability for everyone.”
Since its introduction in Phoenix, the ride-sharing service has expanded. For instance, today, Uber operates in Tucson, Yuma, Flagstaff, Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City.
The ride-sharing service also recently launched a “teen product” in Phoenix. As The Phoenix Business Journal explains, the product allows teens between the ages of 13 and 17 to use Uber for rides to jobs, sports and other extracurricular activities.
Lyft also has operated for several years in the Phoenix area. According to Compare.com, Uber and Lyft are similar in that they both conduct background checks of drivers and require their drivers to carry liability insurance.
Recently, Arizona lawmakers introduced legislation that could lead to an increased use of Uber and Lyft and other ride-sharing services by state government employees. According to The Washington Times, H.B. 2440 would “require a 20 percent cut in the state car and light truck fleet and the creation of a pilot program using,” among other options, “ride-hailing services.”
Uber appears to be here to stay. Its reach may continue to grow. Is that a good thing?
Study Analyzes Uber’s Impact on Cities
Researchers at Western Carolina University recently released a study that analyzed Uber’s impact on cities.
The researchers analyzed many different sets of data, including monthly data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program.
The researchers used the FARS data to look at deadly alcohol-related collisions and fatal crashes that occurred during nighttime hours. In other words, they assessed the rate of crashes that they predicted Uber services might help to prevent.
From the UCR database, they examined the rates of different types of crimes which could be affected by Uber. Those crimes included driving under the influence (DUI), assaults and motor vehicle thefts.
The researchers determined that fatal accident rates generally declined after the introduction of Uber to a city. After the entry of Uber to a city the rate of deadly accidents fell, on average, by about 7 percent, according to the study.
“[W]e also discovered a continued decline in the overall fatal crash rate and the rate of nighttime fatal crashes for the months following the introduction of Uber,” the researchers said.
The study also found that a “large and robust decline in the arrest rate for DUIs” occurs in cities where Uber operates. Depending on a number of factors, the lowered rate of DUI arrests in Uber-friendly cities ranges from 6 to 27 percent. The study reported a “2.8 to 3.4 percent decline in DUIs for each additional month Uber is available.”
The researchers also identified a lowered arrest rate for certain assault crimes. However, the study found that certain types of crime increased after the introduction of Uber. The study reported a notable rise —between 55 and 157 percent—in motor vehicle thefts in cities with Uber services. Why? The researchers opined that in cities where Uber operates, “passengers leave personal vehicles parked in public locations” more frequently.
Is More Regulation of Uber and Ride-Sharing Services Necessary?
With the exception of a potential rise in motor vehicle thefts, the Western Carolina study indicates that cities see many benefits after Uber arrives.
However, as Fortune Magazine notes, many safety advocates still believe that Uber and other ride-sharing services need to be more tightly regulated in order to protect passengers from Uber driver errors or vehicle failures.
For instance, what happens if your Uber driver causes a car accident? Who is responsible for compensating you for your injuries? What happens when an Uber driver gets into a car accident because of defective brakes?
An article in The Atlantic points to other serious issues. Uber drivers have physically and sexually assaulted riders in some cities where Uber operates. Would more stringent Uber regulations help to prevent these crimes?
Arizona has taken a progressive approach. In 2015, the state became the ninth in the country to enact ride-sharing regulations, The Arizona Republic reports.
In Arizona, Uber drivers and other ride-sharing service drivers must carry $250,000 of liability insurance when they are transporting a passenger. The regulations also require driver background checks and vehicle inspection. The state follows a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to drug and alcohol use by drivers.
The above information indicates that Uber’s entry to Phoenix can, in fact, be seen as a positive development. Still, accidents involving Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services can still occur.
If you or a loved one is involved in a ride-sharing accident – as another driver on the road or as a ride-sharing service passenger – you should make sure to contact an experienced auto accident attorney. A lawyer can review your case and help you to assess your legal options.
Zachary Mushkatel is an Arizona native who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona in 2001 and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 2004. After serving as a public defender, he entered into private practice and, ultimately, joined forces with Mathis Becker to form the law firm known today as Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. In addition to criminal law, Mushkatel practices civil litigation, with a focus on estate litigation and personal injury cases. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sun Valley Lodge, and he is an executive officer and member of the Board of Directors for the West Maricopa County Bar Association.