The convenience and reliability of summoning a ride via smartphone apps like Uber make it much easier to get around, especially in urban environments. But are we taking our lives in our hands when we hop in a rideshare car?
Not really, according to a January study from the Cato Institute. The driver vetting processes that Uber and its competitor Lyft use are comparable to those of regulated taxi companies, writes policy analyst (and former reason staffer) Matthew Feeney. The level of insurance protection of riders is adequate, and real-time ratings from customers keep headquarters informed of the quality of cars and drivers.
The system is also far safer for the people doing the driving. Assault, robbery, and murder are big risks for traditional taxi drivers. With ridesharing, no cash ever changes hands, and passengers aren't anonymous—their names and credit card information are right there in the app. This greatly reduces the risk of violent assault, according to the analysis.
Heavily regulated taxi drivers complain of unfair competition from ridesharing services. But as Feeney points out, "the appropriate response to this problem is to rationalize and modernize the outdated and heavy-handed restrictions on taxis—not to extend those restrictions to ridesharing."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "A Better Way".