Sunday, June 16

Ride Sharing And Drunk Driving: Are The Two Related?

If you’ve ever taken a drivers ed course, you’ve probably spent time watching the horror stories of the consequences of drunk driving. It truly is an epidemic in our country: roughly 29 people die every day in car accidents that involve a drunk driver. However, evidence has emerged that the introduction of ride sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, have reduced the number of drunk driving incidents — including those that don’t get into accidents or arrested.

A closer look at a few American cities reveal the subtleties of this impact:

  • Miami’s police department reported a 31% decrease in DUI arrests over the past four years, adding that only 594 people had been arrested for DUIs last year compared to the over 1,500 that had been arrested each year from 2013 to 2015.
  • In Portland, Oregon and San Antonio, Texas, DUIs dropped by almost 60% when ride sharing services were available
  • Las Vegas saw a 37% decrease in DUIs after Uber was introduced in 2015
  • San Diego saw a drop of 32% after Uber launched in 2012

It’s estimated that drunk drivers drive drunk 80 times before they’re caught and first arrested, so Uber and Lyft could go a long way in preventing and reducing those risks to begin with. In fact, one of Uber’s main marketing campaigns focuses on using a designated driver when you’re drinking.

For supporters of the system, such as Matt Owen of San Rafael, the choice is easy.

“On the weekends, if I’m going out for a fun night, I’d much rather have an Uber or a Lyft. It’s not worth it. I’d rather pay $20 than $10,000 dollars for a DUI.”

Considering the frequency in which people drive (an average of 46 minutes a day) and the frequency in which people drink (a lot), ride sharing services offer a safe, affordable option. However, people need to actually be using them in the first place — fortunately, the data shows they are.

In 2015, five years after Uber launched in San Francisco, a study found that only 15% of the population had ever used a ride-hailing service. Considering the three most common causes of car accidents are distracted driving (which claimed almost 3,500 lives in 2015), drunk driving, and speeding, that number was a little low. In 2018, that number now sits between 24% and 43%. People like David Pinsker, Florida’s executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), see the correlation, but aren’t quite sure a quantifiable number of the impact ride sharing has had can be applied.

“I think it’s just really hard to pinpoint exactly what ride-sharing has done. We know it’s had an impact, but I can’t put a number on it.”

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