Published on Feb 24, 2016 by Edgar Snyder

Are Uber and Lyft Responsible for the Decrease in Drunk Driving Accidents?

uber cellphone

Over the past few years, the number of drunk driving accidents in U.S. cities has declined considerably. Some people have attributed this decrease to the growing popularity of ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft. However, other people wonder if it's true that these services are solely responsible for the drop in the number of alcohol-related crashes around the country.

What are Ridesharing Services?

Uber is the most popular ridesharing service located in Pittsburgh and 377 other cities worldwide. Uber allows users to request a ride with the click of a button on their smartphone. Lyft is a very similar ridesharing app that operates nationally and is Uber's number one competitor. Apps like Uber and Lyft are very convenient because they allow users to request a ride without having to talk to someone on the phone in a loud, noisy place. Additionally, users can see where their driver is and exactly when they can expect them to arrive.

Do Ridesharing Services Truly Prevent Drunk Driving?

In 2014, Uber conducted a study to see if there was a relationship between people's decision to drink and drive and increased transit options. The study was conducted in Seattle, where alcohol-related crash data was highly accessible. Research concluded that in Seattle, the number of DUI arrests decreased by more than 10% after Uber was introduced. Although this data was significant, police officials in Seattle do not believe that Uber deserves all the credit for this decrease, and that less drunk driving arrests could be the result of city officials cracking down on drunk driving.

After the Seattle study, Pittsburgh resident and blogger Nate Good decided to take a look at how Uber has changed things in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania exceeds the national average of alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths by 24% and is the fourth-highest state for DUI fatalities.

Good conducted his study in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and found that since Uber was introduced in these cities in 2013, the number of DUIs per month has dropped by 11%. In Pennsylvania, 74% of alcohol-related accidents in 2014 occurred during weekend nights, specifically midnight to 4 a.m. on Sundays. Good found that the highest number of Uber requests was also at this peak time, which shows that Uber provides its users with a safe way to get home from the bars late at night.

Another study conducted by Temple University Business School in Philadelphia showed that on-demand transportation services could reduce the total rate of drunk driving by 3.6%.

California has also noticed a decline in the number of alcohol-related crashes in places where Uber services are offered. In San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other large cities, the number of drunk driving accidents fell 6.5% among drivers. Also, last New Year's Eve in San Francisco, there were only two drunk driving arrests, the lowest number since 2009.

What Do Critics of Ridesharing Services Say?

Some people argue that the statistics make it hard to disagree that ridesharing services prevent drunk driving and improve safety. However, some people wonder if this added convenience encourages reckless behavior. Critics maintain that since riders know they will not have to drive home, they may feel inclined to drink as much as they want in an irresponsible way. This can be problematic if the rider is disruptive, careless, or aggressive towards the Uber driver (or anyone else). Also, while users may have a safe ride to their initial destination, Uber drivers are not responsible for ensuring their rider makes it all the way home.

As ridesharing services become more popular, research tells us that the number of drunk driving arrests and crashes is decreasing in many U.S. cities. While all of these studies show a correlation between the increase in transit options and the decrease in alcohol-related crashes, it cannot be said that ridesharing services have necessarily caused this decrease in accidents.

However, we do know one thing is for sure—ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft provide an important weapon in the fight against drunk driving. They give users a safe, convenient, and affordable way to get home after a night out. Hopefully, as these services become available in all U.S. cities, people will never again consider the option of driving under the influence.

Hurt in a Drunk Driving Accident?

Even though ridesharing services provide people with a safer way to get home after a night out, they haven't completely stopped people from drunk driving. If you or someone you care about are injured by the negligence of a drunk driver, our team of legal professionals is here to help. We can fight to get your expenses paid and get you the compensation you deserve.

Sources: "DUI Arrests and Drink-Driving Convictions Fall Drastically as More Leave the Car at Home and Use Ride-Sharing Services Like Uber." James Gordon. August 17, 2015.
"DUI Rates Decline in Uber Cities." UBER Newsroom. May 5, 2014.
"Uber Can’t Really Prove That It’s Caused A Reduction in Drunk Driving Accidents." Huffington Post Business. Ryann Grochowski Jones. February 4, 2015.
"Uber Takes Credit for Big Drop in Drunk Driving, but Police are Skeptical." Ben Bergman. July 22, 2014.
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