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Ride Sharing: The New, “Safer”, and Cheaper Form of Transportation

Ride sharing services are becoming increasingly popular in major US cities. Cities in Southern California are no exception to this trend. Some of the key reasons behind the increasing popularity include avoidance of drunken-drinking, rush-hour driving, and the ability of ride sharing technology to dissipate limitations that exist with traditional taxis. John Wayne Airport was one of the first big Southern California airports that approved the use of Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing services side by side traditional taxicabs, town cars and shuttle buses. Now, many major airports have designated pick-up locations for ride sharing companies.

Riders usually book and pay for private cars through Smartphone apps. These apps allow a customer to specify his or her needs for a ride while the driver responds to the request at the other end. The app collects the rider’s payment information and a GPS device tracks the trip distance. The credit card of the rider is automatically charged. The payment is managed by the rideshare company, which normally takes a certain percentage off the transport fare and transfers the rest to the driver.

The four most popular ride share services in California are Lyft, Flywheel, Sidecar, and Uber. Uber ranks the top among all of them. Uber got underway in 2009, and by the middle of 2014, it already had eight million users with one hundred-and-sixty thousand drivers in two hundred and fifty cities scattered around fifty different countries.

Rideshare services vs traditional taxi competition

The successes of Uber and Lyft have stirred up repository attack from taxi and car service industries who seek a potential ban of these services by the government. The rapid growth of these ride share services makes them face criticism and protest from taxi drivers who want more regulation and licensing payments to be put in place for the ride share services. In a large number of cities, opening by Lyft or Uber is met many different hostilities.  These include cease-and-desist orders and deferments of operation. Issues regarding Uber safety are part of a bigger dispute against the regulation of the ride share economy.

Likewise, many cities and regions that are affected by non-payment of fees by rideshare services lobby against these services under the guise that they are risky and not properly insured. This has resulted to several protests, bans and on occasion, violence. Irrespective of these oppositions, these ride sharing services continue to grow in reputation and gain wide acceptance.

Safety of Rideshare services

Uber, Lyft or Sidecar drivers don’t need a commercial license to operate. However, the drivers must have unsoiled driving record and Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) check to be accepted into the program. In addition to that, the ride-share services also carryout a 10-year background check to rule out a drivers’ involvement in or conviction of a violent crime, sexual assault or DUI. Some ride share services provide liability insurance for drivers, passengers and pedestrians for roughly one million dollars, especially if the personal insurance of the driver doesn’t provide coverage for the accident. To that effect, Uber and Lyft currently charge a one dollar fee for every ride to take care of the insurance payment.

Uber and related ride share services also improve the services they render to customers by tracking passenger ratings. A driver with a very low passenger rating would easily be eliminated from the system. While the passengers rate the driver, the driver also rates the passenger. A driver and a passenger who gives a rating of three or less for the other would never be paired up in the future.

This is not to say that there is no genuine concern about these ride sharing services and the potential safety to customers. Just as they have helped to greatly reduce the majority of risks associated with taxi riding, they too have their own share of bad news as much as the traditional taxi industry.

However, it has been found that ridesharing services have reduced greatly the rate at which accidents occur in the nation’s streets and highways. This stems from the fact that majority of the accidents occur due to the effect alcohol. Statistics show that 300,000 people drive under the influence of alcohol each day on our nation’s roads. Ten thousand people die in accidents due to alcohol while those that sustain injury far out-pace that figure. A research conducted by UBER in 2014 discovered that the ride share services reduced the amount of drunk-driving in Seattle. Uber’s establishment in Seattle was also found to result in ten percent reduction in DUI arrests.

A joint study by UBER and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) found that ride share services also minimized the incidence of driving under the influence of alcohol in California. This is likely due to the convenience of these services and increasing preference for use of ride share services in California.

A recent report titled “More Options, Shifting Mindsets. Driving Better Choices” also revealed that the preference for ride sharing services is not only convenience for customers.  It also is making a decisive impact in reducing drinking-related accidents, injuries, and deaths. UBER usage is very popular in California. It is also UBER’S oldest market. This has raised hopes that similar results will be replicated in other US states as ride share services get more and more popular.

Rideshare services are a great way for drivers to avoid a DUI charge due to drunken driving. With Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services, Californians have additional way to avoid a DUI charge and the need to hire DUI defense attorney. Overall, the Ride sharing services in California are making the streets of California safer. The benefits are not only enjoyed by riders but by pedestrians in the streets and roads across the nation.

Ride sharing services safety vs. traditional taxis

Both ride sharing services and taxi rides involve giving a ride to strangers, which comes with the risk of harassment and violence. Uber has had its share of security breaches, such as a passenger who was attacked with a hammer by a driver in San Francisco. There are also instances of sexual assaults by Uber drivers, which have brought into question the quality of Uber’s system for background checks. Lyft also has its fair share of risks such as violent attacks and sexual assault. This doesn’t mean, however, that traditional taxis are the safest form of transportation. The taxi industry also has its fair share of racist behavior, and dangerous driving.

The taxi commission in Washington accepted that there are still concerns about assault, both from passengers and from drivers. The majority of people that  portray Uber and related services in a more dangerous light are direct competitors of Uber that are increasingly threatened by its success.  Many studies show that while ride sharing decreases the number of DUI related accidents, accidents otherwise remain steady statistically.

The statistics about ridesharing and DUI

Three years after the launch of ride sharing services in Southern California, the number of L.A. taxi trips booked in advance declined to forty-two percent, as revealed by city records. The drop was most noticeable in the southern California’s streets that are mostly frequented by tourists and ones that involves nightlife like Westside, Hollywood and downtown. Also, the total numbers of trips with ride share services increased by roughly thirty percent. The reduction is an indication of a remarkable decline from traditional taxi use to that of ride share services.

Studies also found that “UberX” launch in California resulted in a 6.5 percent reduction in alcohol-related road accidents. This translates to 2,700 fewer accidents while under the influence of alcohol since July 2012. Surveys also found that seventy-eight percent of people are not likely  to drive under the influence of alcohol with the availability of ride sharing services. Roughly ninety-three percent of respondents would happily recommend Uber usage to their drunken friends.

Again, independent research from Temple University  found that from 2009 to 2014, the California DUI data demonstrated that as soon as Uber was launched, alcohol-related road accident death reduced by roughly two percent.  Temple researchers found that if the same service is replicated nationwide, it would result in prevention of roughly five hundred deaths every year.


The growth of ride sharing has been positive for many people throughout Southern California. As evidenced above, the instance of DUI related accidents have decreased since the inception of successful ride sharing services. However, the rate of accidents on our roadways have not. Moreover, the convenience of ride sharing programs make it easier for some to commute, as they are more likely to get out of the house if they don’t have to be behind the wheel in traffic that is at time unbearable. If you have been in an accident involving a ride sharing service, call us at one of our offices for a free consultation. Temecula: 951-223-1340. Carlsbad: 760-994-0563