Ridesourcing prevalence increased rapidly in the last few years. Current estimates suggest that a quarter to half of Americans have used this mobility option, generating millions of rides. Yet the impacts of such mobility services are unclear. Will transportation network companies and related services encourage multi-modality and discourage car ownership leading to safer, less congested, and less polluted neighborhoods or will Americans use the new service to increase automobility? We statistically analyze the effects of ridesourcing on road crashes, injuries, and fatalities using a novel dataset of ridesourcing trips from Austin, Texas. Our approach leverages geographic information system data (using 1.5 million ridesourcing trips), portraying where in the community ridesourcing is operating and using real-time ridesourcing volumes to explain variation in road safety outcomes. Our contributions include developing a data-rich approach, leveraging cloud computing, for assessing the impacts of ridesourcing introduction on transportation’s system safety using econometric and time-series models. The analysis proposed can serve as a template for other US cities. Our research outcomes can provide feedback to city planners and policymakers by clarifying how ridesourcing and road crashes are associated, while helping them identify sets of actions to achieve safer and more efficient shared mobility.
Dr. Ria Kontou is a research associate in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests lie in the fields of transportation planning and emerging vehicle technologies operations and energy consumption. Dr. Kontou conducted research as a postdoc at the Transportation Systems Center of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, analyzing energy impacts of connected and automated vehicles as well as ride-sourcing services, funded by the Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission. She received her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, focusing on transportation, from University of Florida. She holds a M.Sc. from Virginia Tech and a B.Sc. from the National Technical University of Athens, both in Civil Engineering.