Published On: Wed, Nov 5th, 2014

Can Uber and Lyft Help Reduce DUIs?

One of the most compelling arguments for a wider adoption of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft is that it could help make cities less congested and reduce air pollution, which would be of benefit both to authorities and the general public, but there is another potential benefit that has been disregarded so far, and can have a great impact on traffic safety. It’s the potential ride-sharing has for reducing drunk driving and alcohol-related accidents, with a couple of studies showing that a lot of people are using the transportation on demand option as an alternative to sitting behind the wheel after drinking.

Public domain image/Jon Sullivan

Public domain image/Jon Sullivan

DUI statistics from the past couple of years since the launch of the first ride-sharing apps show a correlation between the introduction of services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar in certain cities, and a decline in DUI arrests. According to data provided by the California Highway Patrol, covering the last five years, the number of DUI offenses in the Los Angeles area has dropped considerably after the launch of the Uber app there in April 2012. In 2014 alone, there was a 14% drop in DUI arrests compared to 2013.

While there is no way to be sure that the decline in drunk driving offenses should be attributed solely to these ride-sharing services, there is no denying that they have helped take a lot of drunk drivers off the streets. They have certainly taken a lot of customers away from taxi companies, and bar hoppers looking for a ride home have always comprised a significant portion their customer base.

The fact that as much as 20% of the trips made by Uber drivers on weekends in Los Angeles are made between midnight and 4 a.m. – which is when most drunk-driving accidents occur – could be considered as a key parameter backing up the theory that ride-sharing really does help prevent alcohol-related crashes.

Besides Los Angeles, Uber claims that it has helped make streets in Seattle safer, as well. According to the company itself, DUI arrests in Seattle have dropped by 10% since it started offering its services there. “Our analysis in Seattle shows a 10-percent reduction in DUI rates since Uber entered the market, and we are excited for the ways this partnership will continue to spread the word about the importance of making a safe choice – and taking Uber”, said Travis Kalanick , Uber’s CEO, said in a press release published on the company website a couple of months ago.

Even though Uber says that reducing DUIs was not its primary goal when it first started doing business, it admits that this is a great added benefit of their services, and has decided to actively join the battle against drunk driving. Uber recently partnered up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), launching a campaign intended to raise awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence, and pledging to donate $1 to MADD for every trip made with one of their cars.

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  1. Eric Masaba says:

    Where Uber may have copied its execution from…


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