Just how effective is Uber in reducing drunk driving crashes?

As much as we would like to believe that people are now more prone to rethinking their decision to get behind the wheel after a night spent imbibing, statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that drunk driving is still the single biggest cause of deadly motor vehicle accidents, accounting for over 10,000 fatalities per year.

In light of figures like these, questions naturally arise as to just how effective ride sharing services like the omnipresent Uber have been in reducing fatal drunk driving accidents. Indeed, the company, which markets itself as an on-call designated driver, frequently cites research showing that the ride sharing model reduces both DUIs and fatal drunk driving accidents.

Interestingly enough, a recently published study in the American Journal of Epidemiology has called these claims about the efficacy of the ride sharing model in reducing drunk driving accidents into question.

As part of the study, researchers from Oxford University and the University of Southern California undertook a county-by-county analysis of traffic fatalities in the 100 most populated metropolitan areas of the U.S. from 2005 through 2014.

Specifically, after comparing both areas and timeframes with and without Uber, and controlling for differences, they determined that there was no reduction in fatal drunk driving accidents, fatal holiday-related accidents or fatal weekend accidents.

As to the reasons behind these findings, the researchers offered several theories:

  • There simply aren't enough Uber drivers: There are roughly 450,000 people who drive for Uber as compared with 210 million licensed drivers, an estimated 4.2 million of whom drive under the influence.
  • The pool of responsible parties is the same: The number of impaired persons who always make sure that they never drive under the influence has not really grown, as these people are now calling Uber instead of taxi companies.
  • Drivers are still willing to take the risk: Regardless of the business model, impaired persons are still choosing to take the risk of being arrested for DUI rather than pay money for a ride.

While the study authors in no way condemned Uber, they did indicate that both it and other ride sharing services would need to do much more to make a dent in drunk driving fatalities.

If you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by a drunk driver, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about your options for seeking justice.

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