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Do Regulations for Taxis Reduce Accidents?

Rules for TaxisWhen comparing taxis and ridesharing services, people tend to talk about cost, accessibility, and convenience. But, you also need to think about safety. In a lot of places, taxis are more heavily regulated than ridesharing services. Do these rules reduce accidents? Well, the answer is complicated.


Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of data comparing accidents rates between taxis and ridesharing services, but here’s a closer look at some facts that help to create a clearer picture of what’s happening.

Taxis Are Safer Than Private Cars

A study in New York City indicated that taxi and livery cars — such as black cars, for-hire livery services, and limos with fewer than nine passengers — have a 33% lower crash rate than other drivers. Over every 1 million miles driven, there are 4.6 cab crashes, 3.7 livery car crashes, and 6.7 crashes with private cars.


In spite of this data, most people think that private cars are safer than taxis, but that perception is not completely misguided. Although taxis crash less frequently than other cars, the injuries sustained are usually more intense. Cab drivers tend to not wear their seatbelts and the partition between the front and back seats can cause fairly serious injuries when passengers fly forward and crash into it. That said, if you take 100 cab rides per year, your chance of being injured is about 0.4% over a 10-year time period.


These numbers were collected before ridesharing services became popular. However, it’s important to note that ridesharing vehicles don’t have partitions, which eliminates some of the injuries described above.

Taxi Drivers Have More Experience than Ridesharing Drivers

One of the reasons that professional drivers tend to get into fewer accidents than personal drivers is because they have more experience. Generally, taxi drivers also tend to have more experience than ridesharing drivers. Surveys of taxi drivers reveal that they tend to have anywhere from 5.7 to 9.2 years of experience. In contrast, over half of ridesharing drivers have no experience when they start working. The lack of experience can translate to reduced safety levels for passengers and for other vehicles around the ridesharing drivers.

Taxi Drivers Face Thorough Background Checks

Most cities require taxi cab drivers to go through extensive background checks, but they don’t have similar rules in place for people who drive for ridesharing services. This fact can also make ridesharing services potentially more dangerous than taxis.


In Massachusetts, a 2016 law requires ridesharing drivers to have a two-part driver background check — with one part done by the transportation company and the other by the state. After that, drivers need to be screened every six months, and they can’t appear on the National Sex Offender Registry or have a conviction in the last seven years.  

Taxi Drivers Need a Special License

In Massachusetts, taxi drivers need a special license, and their employers need a permit or license (also called a medallion) to operate legally. That helps to boost the safety levels for taxi services. As a general rule of thumb, ridesharing drivers don’t need a special license. However, they can’t have more than four minor traffic violations or more than one major traffic violation in the last three years. These laws help to increase safety across the board.

The Type of Vehicles Can Affect Safety

In the past, taxi companies in Massachusetts had to buy cars that were painted white in the factory, but now, they can buy used cars and paint them white. While there’s no data on how this has affected safety levels, it’s important to note that newer vehicles are almost always safer than older ones. However, most taxi cabs undergo routine safety checks, and they are often outfitted with additional safety features, such as security cameras, which ridesharing cars typically don’t have.


Uber requires drivers to have vehicles that were manufactured after 2005, and that helps to improve safety. However, in all cases, there are safety essentials that are not regulated by the law. For instance, yellow taxis are involved in 9% fewer accidents than blue taxis. Simply by getting in an Uber or Lyft that is a certain color, your safety levels can fluctuate.

Taxis Don’t Need to Be Connected to Central Dispatch

In the past, taxis had to connect to a central dispatch service, but in Boston, that rule has been relaxed to help taxi companies compete with ridesharing services. You can hail these taxis on the street or pick one up at the airport, but unfortunately, the taxi may not be tracked by a third party.


With ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft, the drivers are tracked by the app. The company knows where they are at all times. Even if an unscrupulous driver turned off their phone, your phone would continue to track your whereabouts in case of an issue. These elements help to improve safety for both taxi and ridesharing services.


Taxi rules are designed to keep passengers safe, but in the era of ridesharing, many of these rules have been relaxed, potentially making the situation more dangerous for passengers. If you have been involved in an accident in a taxi or in a ridesharing vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more and set up a free case evaluation, contact us today. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we can help you fight for your legal and financial rights.

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