Crashes involving black cars, which include those driven for e-hail companies like Uber and Lyft, caused 13 deaths last year, while yellow cabs caused only two, writes Matthew Flamm at Crain’s. But as frightening as those numbers seem, a passenger is actually slightly better off in a black car, according to an analysis of recently released crash data. Again, transportation consultant Bruce Schaller has been crunching TLC data to produce these statistics. A few weeks ago he reported that the TNC’s in New York (Uber, Lyft & Co) actually cause the city’s gridlock.
Traffic fatalities are too rare in the industry to provide a good indication of trends, according Schaller, who performed an analysis of Taxi and Limousine Commission statistics on behalf of Crain’s. But crashes involving injuries do.
Here, too, black cars led the pack, with 3,768 such crashes last year. Yellow cabs had 2,037.
But black cars are a much bigger sector. There are roughly 13,000 yellow cabs on the road in the city and about 66,000 black cars, of which 51,323 are affiliated with Uber, Lyft, Via, Juno and Gett, according to the TLC. Black cars also put in a lot more mileage: 1.6 billion miles last year, compared with 770 million for yellow cabs, according to data compiled by Schaller. On a per-million-mile basis, therefore, black cars get into slightly fewer crashes with injuries than do other TLC-regulated vehicles. Black cars had 2.36 crashes per million miles. Yellow cabs had 2.64, or 11.9% more. Livery services and street-hail livery cabs, also known as green cabs, had a combined rate of 3.12 crashes per million miles. The higher number is perhaps attributable to the greater number of stops they perform along with their shorter rides.
Black-car rides are prearranged, whereas yellow cabs respond to street hails and thus might cut across lanes or pull over suddenly to pick up passengers.
The TLC compiles the data as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero campaign to eliminate traffic fatalities. What they show, however, is that the total number of crashes is rising along with the number of miles driven by an increasing number of car services.
The number of miles driven by TLC-regulated cars grew to 3.2 billion in 2016 from 2.5 billion in 2014, up 28%, according to Schaller. In the first month he analyzed, July 2014, 2,835 were involved in a crash. Two years later, in July 2016, that number was 4,168, an increase of 47%. “It’s not a surprise,” Schaller said. “But as the industry expands, it is really working against the mayor’s Vision Zero goals.”
The crash numbers have attracted comment on all sides of the industry’s increasingly heated battle for market share. “The failure to regulate the growth of Uber and its imitators is taking us back 50 years to when chaos on the streets forced the city to create the medallion system,” said Nino Hervias, a cab driver and member of the Taxi Medallion Owners and Drivers Association.
Uber, meanwhile, sees a solution in technology. “Technologies like Uber provide opportunities to improve road safety in new and innovative ways,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement. “We’re deploying technology that can help detect and deter risky driving behaviors. By using data we hope to prevent and reduce crashes in the future.”
Dawn Miller, chief of staff at the TLC, said the agency has stepped up its efforts, engaging “in an unprecedented level of safety programming through enforcement, education and outreach.” And Cira Angeles, a spokeswoman for the Livery Base Owners Association, said that the numbers reflect the traditional differences between the sectors: Black cars tend to make longer trips, while livery drivers are making “many short trips with quick stops,” she said, in a “city that has grown more congested.”
- More black cabs = more accidents.