Study: Uber And Ridesharing Reduces Drunk Driving

Posted: Jan 31, 2015 10:38 AM
Uber - the app-based private car service - and other ridesharing operations have been in constant political struggles with incumbent taxi operators across the country and across the world. But a hidden benefit may have emerged - the prevalence of Uber might lead to decreased road fatalities, because it means fewer people are driving drunk.

As Economics 21's Jared Meyer reports:

A new report issued by Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving shows that booming ridesharing services are not just convenient and affordable—they are lifesavers. Opponents of ridesharing will now have a more difficult time claiming that it puts the public at risk.

Ridesharing saves lives because people use it as a designated driver (drivers who partner with the companies are held to strict zero-tolerance alcohol policies) instead of trying to drive themselves home after they have had too much to drink. As the report states, “when people have more options, they make better, safer choices.” In a survey of 807 individuals conducted by Benenson Strategy Group, 88 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “Uber has made it easier for me to avoid driving home when I’ve had too much to drink,” and 78 percent said Uber has made it less likely that their friends drive after drinking.

The survey results are supported by other data. Uber’s entry into Seattle was associated with a 10 percent decrease in drunk driving arrests. Controlling for outside factors, after uberX launched in cities across California, monthly alcohol-related crashes decreased by 6.5 percent among drivers under 30 (59 fewer crashes per month). This decline was not observed in California markets without uberX. When drunk driving decreases, it benefits everyone who shares the road.

I've written about the push for sharing economy liberalization both at the local and national level here. This is evidence that there are myriad effects of ridesharing services that people don't traditionally think about. More sharing means fewer drunk drivers - because they'll be able to hail a cab, no matter what or where they are.