Research over the past few years suggests that the availability of ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, may help reduce drunk driving incidents. With the use of these apps on the rise, it makes sense that drunk driving crashes would decrease, especially in metropolitan cities where this business is booming. While this theory may hold true in some areas, new research shows that Uber usage actually affects accident rates very differently from city to city.
To get a sense of how these services affect alcohol-related crash data, previous studies have largely been averaging the impact of app usage across multiple cities. But researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania took a unique approach in their study by looking at Uber’s impact on drunk driving statistics and car crash histories individually in four different metropolitan cities: Reno, NV; Las Vegas, NV; Portland, OR; and San Antonio, TX. Their findings were surprising.
Ridesharing and drunk driving crashes: Your results may vary
The data revealed that Portland and San Antonio both experienced a decrease in alcohol-related crashes by about 60 percent, but Uber’s presence had no observable effects in Reno or Las Vegas. Additionally, the number of car accidents involving injury did not change in any city. But why?
Christopher Morrison, the lead author of the study recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, believes several factors could be at play. People that have been drinking may be more prone to taking public transit over ridesharing services, especially if it is cheaper and easily accessible. Additionally, in more congested areas that attract tourists, the use of cabs and ridesharing services could be more common, causing such data to be different.
What really drives ridesharing app usage?
The authors of the study are still unsure of exactly why the results between locations are so diverse, and with the number of car crashes involving injuries remaining unchanged, “some caution is warranted.” The analysis provides some interesting data and opens up the floor for further research on how a city’s infrastructure and transportation habits may affect the usage of ride-hailing apps and alcohol-related incidents.
Ridesharing services still provide a safe alternative to drunk driving, and communities and citizens alike should take advantage of a “designated driver for hire.” However, the results reinforce the fact that car crashes involving drunk drivers remain a problem in cities and counties across the country.
Do you think ridesharing services have a positive effect on drunk driving in your city?