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Has Uber Really Helped to Reduce Drunk Driving? New Study Says No

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have become the latest craze in many metropolitan areas. Whether you need to make a quick run to the grocery store or you have attended a party and had one too many drinks, Uber is often just a touch of an app away for many.

As a benefit of its services, Uber notes quite often that there’s been a reduction in drunk driving since the service began. However, a recent study conducted by researchers at Oxford University and the University of Southern California found that in 100 of the most heavily populated metropolitan areas (which included Denver and Colorado Springs), ride-sharing apps like Uber had no effect on the number of drunk driving-related traffic deaths.

The Study’s Findings

In 2015, Uber conducted a survey with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and found “anecdotal evidence” that individuals believed their loved ones would be less likely to drink and drive since Uber was introduced. Additionally, another report issued by Providence College and Stonehill College noted a reduction in traffic fatalities in relation to ride-sharing apps.

Still, the latest study, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, showed that based on a county-level analysis of data from 100 metro areas in several states, ride-sharing apps have had no effect on alcohol-related traffic deaths. The creators of the study further separated the total number of alcohol-related traffic deaths from deaths that took place over holidays and/or weekends and still found no reduction in deaths since Uber’s inception.

But why is this the case? While there’s no definitive answer to the question as of yet, the researchers who conducted the study speculated that “the average inebriated individual contemplating drunk driving may not be sufficiently rational to substitute drinking and driving for a presumably safer Uber ride…”

An Uber spokeswoman responded to the Washington Post about the study, stating that Uber was happy to be able to “provide an alternative to drunk driving and help people make more responsible choices.” According to Uber’s ridership stats, “trips peak at times when people are more likely to be out drinking and 80 percent of riders say that Uber has helped them personally avoid drinking and driving.”

What Does This Mean for Driver Safety?

The argument has been made that drunk-driving incidents would sharply increase if ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft ever left. However, the study showed that for individuals who drive drunk, Uber will not change their minds against choosing to drive while impaired.

When looked at closely, many Uber passengers may have previously used some form of public transportation or taxi anyway instead of driving drunk. So switching from a cab to Uber would, in essence, not bring about any substantial change with respect to cutting down on the number of drunk driving incidents that occur.

While Uber and Lyft are helpful services, they simply are not big enough in comparison to the over 200 million licensed drivers located in the U.S. — 4.2 million of which will choose to drive while intoxicated during any given month.

If you or someone you love has been injured by a drunk driver, contact the Denver automobile accident lawyers at Levine law today for help.

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