It is true that the wonderful world of free enterprise and the American way is conducive to enterprising ideas and business. Recently Uber has knocked the enterprising spirit out of the ballpark. Where else can ordinary people sign up to make money using their own car, on their own time, to drive people from place to place? According to Uber’s website over a million drivers have signed up. One of the many perceived perks is people out drinking call or use the app to hail an Uber instead of driving drunk. Has the rise of Uber decreased incidents of DWI?
Cities welcome Uber
Cities like New York, Austin, Los Angeles, and Chicago have welcomed Uber for many reasons.
- Increased jobs created by Uber and the ride-share industry.
- Uber’s claim: “A city with Uber has more economic opportunities for residents, fewer drunk drivers on the streets…”
- More available than some public transportation
- Less costly than traditional taxis
- The residents want Uber.
New Study tells a different tale
Uber’s availability claim goes a step farther in claiming it keeps drunk drivers off the street. Ride-for-ride they probably do have a large portion of intoxicated riders. In all probability, taxis have a large portion of intoxicated drivers. The happy hour, dinner and late night areas stand to have the largest ratio of drinking customers.
A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology finds no direct correlation between the rise of Uber and similar ride-sharing companies and lowering of drinking traffic violations and deaths.
The study concentrates on three areas of traffic fatalities to determine their findings. The fatality numbers were obtained from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which is produced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and available from 2009 through 2014.
- Total traffic fatalities
- Drunk driving–related fatalities
- Weekend (5pm Friday to 5am Sunday) and holiday-specific fatalities
The study used Uber’s statistics on the deployment of drivers to the area of heavy drinking traffic. The numbers were used in relation to area, time of day, weekend and holiday use. After an extensive review of all numbers, the study concluded that in most urban areas there was no difference in drunk driving accidents and fatalities than before Uber came into being.
Why has Uber no measurable effect?
- Several factors explain why the study found no direct correlation between Uber presence and drunk driving incidents.
- Uber is a small measure of total traffic in the United States.
- Some drunk drivers, who used public transportation, taxi services, and other forms of transportation switched to Uber; instead of additional drunk drivers using Uber.
- The rationale of drunk drivers has not suddenly changed and if individuals are prone to drive intoxicated Uber has not changed their behavior.
The Study Concludes Skepticism of Uber Claims
Debunking Uber’s claim of lower drunk driving incidents, the study offers reasonable reasons for the findings. It stands to reason, Uber is doing as much as other forms of transportation in providing an alternative to drinking and driving.
The study provides an explanation for the finding being typical human behavior. Uber may not directly affect drunk driving incidents but there is always hope that with more Uber drivers on the roads that the option is always available.
Due to the lack of effect on drunk driving incidents found by the study Uber is taking a hit. Austin failed with Uber but are seriously studying the before, during and after effects of the rise and fall of ride sharing.
Mother Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) has cautioned the correlation between drunk driving and traffic incidents. MADD is working with Uber to get the word out that drinking and driving are out of the question and alternative transportation, like Uber, is a must for anyone considering drinking.
Hope for Uber and Drunk driving
Uber claims to have an effect on drunk driving incidents and the study points to no correlation. However, the study explains why and gives us hope that with increases in Uber drivers and MADD’s no drinking and driving message that the option increases. Every drunk driver who makes their way around the roads has more options of alternative transportation available to them. Perhaps a future study will show a difference.