Are Rideshares the Answer to Ending Drunk Driving?

Driving drunk has severe consequences and, in the United States, claims more than 10,000 lives each year. It seems logical to assume that ride hailing services like Uber would go a long way to reducing these incidents.

It’s a claim that Uber is incentivized to make, and one that’s supported by a recent independent study. This study looked at the New York Department of Motor Vehicles and the State’s Department of Transport’s collision data between 2007 and 2013. It found that four of New York’s boroughs enjoyed a 25-35 percent reduction in alcohol related collisions after Uber began operating there in 2011. 

This significant reduction equates to around 40 less accidents per month, and is positive news for Uber, who’s received their fair share of negative press over the past year.

Conflicting Findings
While Uber may be keen to espouse the public health benefits of their service, not all studies agree that the ridesharing service is the reason drunk drivers aren’t getting behind the wheel. A report published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found no association between car accident injuries or traffic fatalities and Uber use, while other surveys found that ride-hailing services did have a positive impact on drunk driving – but only in some cities.

A number of variables between locations impact Uber’s capacity to affect drunk driving statistics. State laws, time frames of service, and community access to public transport are just some of the factors which, if not taken into consideration, can skew findings. 

Somewhat unsurprisingly, Uber’s own report, conducted in partnership with MADD, provided ‘strong evidence that Uber is having a meaningful and positive impact on mindsets and the rate of drunk driving.’ 

Mitigating Factors
While the growing amounts of data on Uber and ride-hailing services may point to a decrease in alcohol-related and other accidents, it is tricky to separate causation from correlation. Jessica Peck, the author of the aforementioned study on Uber in New York, conceded the difficulty in differentiating between the two when analyzing the data sets used. 

Christopher Morrison, author of the Perelman School of Medicine's report, urged Uber and similar services to be cautious about making potentially unfounded claims that their services decreased drunken driving incidents.

Individual characteristics of the cities and boroughs studied are thought to be the main factor behind the conflicting reports. Denser urban centers, limited parking, public transport, tourism rates, and a city’s terrain all impact the effect of rides-sharing services. 

This difference can be seen in terms of uptake and the effect a city’s culture has on individual decisions to drive after drinking. If these factors are not taken into consideration, it can seem like researchers are cherry-picking data to give the desired results.

Other Road Incidents
The option for people to get home more safely after a night out is most certainly a positive benefit that Uber delivers on. However, while Uber and similar ride-hailing services enable people to have more choice in terms of transport options, it doesn’t necessarily mean that inebriated people will start making better decisions about their transport home. Additionally, ride-hailing services haven’t been found to reduce other types of road accidents.

Distracted driving is arguably just as dangerous as drunk driving, resulting in 9 deaths each day across the United States. Some research teams have theorized that ride-share services could actually increase the prevalence of other types of road accidents now that drivers are consulting mobile devices throughout journeys.

As Uber and other ride-hailing services increase in popularity across the States, more data will become available. The forthcoming results may reveal a link between their use and a reduction in alcohol-related or overall road accidents. However, studies appear to show that such claims are unable to be fully substantiated just yet.

.: Peace Out :.


  1. I agree that these rideshares are the answer to reduce or end all the drunk driving. My best friend drove his car and crashed, killing another good buddy after a night out partying and boozing.

  2. Great idea...if the one driving doesn't drink, like me! You need a ride?

  3. @TwilightMan: I personally prefer not to drive unless I can't get a Grab or UBER ride. Somemore park at some of the places can cost almost the same as driving.

  4. @Suituapui: Yes please! I need this kind of friend for this kind of situation! LOL

  5. Henry you can call me to fetch you anytime!

  6. @Twilight: Really? Haha... that's good to know!


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