How safe is that Uber you're hailing?

This app lets a stranger drive your kids
This app lets a stranger drive your kids

The rise of ride-sharing services means that people are opting to be chauffeured instead of taking the driver's seat.

And a company called Zendrive wants to make sure we're in safe hands. The startup collects data on drivers using sensors on their smartphones. The sensors can detect everything from when a driver is speeding, to when they're talking on the phone or slamming on the brakes.

Ride-sharing companies like Shuddle have integrated the technology into their apps to track their fleets. Drivers are given a score based on whether they're driving aggressively, speeding or glued to their smartphones.

"People are very distracted by phone use. Drivers are getting worse," said Zendrive cofounder Jonathan Matus, who previously worked at Google (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB).

"This is something that is a global phenomenon and we're trying to help fleets deal with it using very sophisticated tools," he added.

Like most tech companies, Zendrive is providing companies with a host of data about drivers.

car service tracking

It recently conducted a study with SherpaShare, which integrated its technology into its app. SherpaShare is used by over 10,000 contract drivers (who work at companies like Uber and Lyft) to compile hours of work, number of miles driven and expenses for various driving gigs.

Using data from June to August of this year, Zendrive uncovered which cities have the safest drivers -- meaning they're less distracted by their phones and are speeding less.

The cities with the safest rideshare drivers were Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Portland, Oregon, and San Diego. The least safe were Atlanta, Fort Worth, Houston, Miami and Dallas.

Matus isn't quite sure what to do with the data but says it raises interesting points for cities and fleets.

"There's the curious case of Austin," said Matus, noting that Austin was among the top three cities while other Texas cities were significantly less safe. "Is it something about how cities are planned in Texas? Is Austin doing something structurally different? Your guess is as good as mine."

Additionally, Zendrive found that the safest time of day to take a rideshare was weekday mornings (6 a.m. to 9 a.m.), and weekend evenings (9 p.m. to 12 a.m.). Best to avoid weekday afternoons and weekend mornings -- as that was when drivers were most distracted.

According to Matus, the vast majority of accidents are the result of human error -- and roughly 30% of accidents involve phone usage.

Matus said Zendrive gives companies knowledge about what's going on in vehicles so they can track driving behavior over time and know how to better train their drivers.

And it's beneficial for companies. In September, Zendrive announced its first insurance partner, which will give a 10% discount to companies with fleets that have good Zendrive scores.

"We're helping this economy grow," said Matus. "We're helping it be safer and cheaper."

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