If you’ve been living in a hole the last year and don’t know who or what Uber is, here’s the primer. The ride-sharing services company creates and markets a smartphone app where a user can request a car to act as a taxi service. The user requests a trip request, which is then routed to an Uber driver for service. Lyft is a competitor but is not as widely available. Uber has had a meteoric rise; in less than eighteen months, its value went from $18 billion in the middle of 2014 to $50 billion at the end of 2015 according to Forbes. While San Francisco based Uber has had some significant bad press in the last few years, when it comes to drunk driving and DUIs, Uber (and Lyft) have some good news.
Studies Show that Uber Helps Cut Down DUIs
Although the studies are in their infancy, there is little doubt that car sharing decreases the rate of DUIs where Uber is widely available. According to one study conducted in 2014 for the city of Seattle, the number of arrests decreased by more than ten percent once the San Francisco-based car sharing service was widely made available in that city. The same study also concluded that the legalization of marijuana actually increased marijuana DUIs by an even greater amount.
Temple University conducted a study of DUIs and Uber’s impact on deaths caused by drunk drivers. Researchers Brad Greenwood and Sunil Wattal at Temple University found that car sharing services led to a decrease in the number of vehicular homicides from DUIs in California. The research used data only from California from 2009 through 2014, and they determined that there is a 3.6 percent to 5.6 percent reduction in DUI homicides from the use of Uber X (Uber’s least expensive fare). The Temple University study went so far as to say that Uber could save 500 lives annually and the economy $1.3 billion.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) produced a report that Uber reduced DUI collisions by 6.5% among drivers under 30 years old where Uber operated. MADD touted this as 60 fewer drunk driving crashes per month. With the report, MADD also conducted a survey of persons related to the attitudes regarding ridesharing services and drunk driving. It should be noted that the MADD report was made in conjunction with the ridesharing services company, so it may be more than just a little biased.
In short, there is evidence that Uber’s network of sober and available drivers have a measurable impact on decreasing the frequency of DUIs.