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Why Uber's partnership with AARP to recruit seniors might mean safer roads

/ Source: TODAY

Many of us have been annoyed while stuck in traffic behind older folks who often drive slowly and seem dead-set on keeping us from getting to our destinations on time.

Well, that laid-back, unhurried driving style could make seniors ideal recruits for Uber.

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The for-hire car service announced a partnership with Life Reimagined, a non-profit subsidiary of AARP — the advocacy group for aging citizens — under which it will seek new drivers among the over-40 group. For Uber, the move taps a significant population of people who are looking for work and have good driving records but might not have thought previously of becoming what the company calls “driver partners.”

Uber collaborating with AARPUber

Uber and Life Reimagined sweetened the pot by offering a $35 incentive, which they touted as “equivalent to a full tank of gas in many cities.” To get the perk, new drivers must sign up through Life Reimagined and provide 10 trips.

The new strategy could also help improve Uber’s image, which has been hurt by a number of high-profile traffic accidents and the belief among some critics that Uber drivers are often too harried and distracted to be truly safe.

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Safety experts have long pointed out that older drivers, despite what many people think, are actually safer on the road than younger drivers. Data on traffic accidents indicate older drivers are involved in fewer crashes and their statistics are generally improving.

“The crash rates for older drivers have declined sharply over time,” said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “Older drivers tend to do better than younger ones in part because they aren’t taking as many risks while driving. They aren’t speeding, they aren’t texting,” Rader told TODAY.

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The Insurance Institute, a safety organization funded by the insurance industry, tracks accident data, conducts crash tests and is well-known for its system of rating vehicles based on how well they protect occupants in collisions.

Uber’s agreement with AARP is part of its broad growth strategy that includes a just-announced plan to spend $1 billion to expand its business in India. The company earlier this year announced a similar expansion plan for China.