More Evidence Uber Keeps People From Drunk Driving


a graph depicting Uber usage

Ever since innovative ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft started gaining popularity, people have made the intuitive assertion that these services could cut down on drinking and driving. People will choose an affordable, safe alternative to drunk driving if that alternative is readily available. 

Just a few weeks ago, Pittsburgh resident Nate Good published a quick study that offered the first hard evidence that DUI rates may be decreasing in cities where Uber is popular. An analysis of Philadelphia's data showed an 11.1 percent decrease in the rate of DUIs since ridesharing services were made available, and an even more astonishing 18.5 percent decrease for people under 30. 

As everyone knows, however, correlation does not equal causation. Good's quick number-crunching was too simplistic to draw any overarching conclusions, but it did open the door for future studies. A recent, deeper analysis from Uber makes the case even stronger that ridesharing services may be responsible for a decline in DUIs.

The first thing Uber did was use its own data to see if people disproportionately called for Uber cars from bars in comparison to other venues. And indeed:

Requests for rides come from Uber users at bars at a much higher rate than you might expect based on the number of bars there are in the city. The fraction of requests from users at bars are between three and five times greater than the total share of bars.

Next, they used government data to find out when deaths from DUIs are most likely to occur. Fatalities due to drunk driving start to peak at midnight, are the highest from 12:00-3:00 AM, and happen much more often on the weekends. Uber then gathered their own internal data and found that Uber transactions spiked at the times when people are most likely to drink and drive (as depicted in the chart above).

There remains plenty of room for more studies on how Uber is affecting transportation trends. But early evidence for a positive impact—an impact that goes far beyond mere consumer convenience—is already compelling.

NEXT: Former State Trooper Maintains Innocence While Pleading Guilty to Stealing Cash, Jewelry From Dying Motorist

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  1. Well then drunks should have better lobbyists.

    1. Or drunks’ past and potential victims.

  2. Preventing drunk driving deprives the state of valuable revenue, deprives mandatory treatment centers of valuable revenue, deprives insurance companies of valuable revenue, deprives jails of valuable revenue… What did I miss?

    Either way, it’s a terrible crime to deprive all those people of valuable revenue.

    1. How can we expect to have an economy without all of those things? Apparently you have America.

        1. I think you had it right the first time in a way.

          1. How can we call it RC’s Law if RC changes his moniker?

            1. I believe you’re refering to Joez Law, which is technically an actual law known as Muphry’s Law

            2. Joe’z Law was that any post accusing someone else of being an idiot would have a typo in it.

              See: “Get a brain, moran.”

              RC’z Law is that typos will tend to make any comment funnier or more insightful.

              See: Any post by John, ever.

        2. Maybe there’s a way he can have his America and hate it too.

    2. What did I miss?

      Well at least in one case it would deprive a Taxi company of valuable revenue. The Taxi company I drove for had an exclusive contract with the local governments to transport all persons processed at the DUI center to their homes after they were through with them. The fare (and automatic tip) added on to the court costs.

      1. Typical libertarian. You just don’t want the taxi drivers to make a livable wage.

  3. I can just see, during the 2016 potus primaries, a crazed gang of White Squaw supporters burning pink mustaches on the white house lawn.

    1. Are you describing something literal, or was that a euphemism for something sexual?

      1. Lyft, pink mustache, unionized cab companies?

  4. It’s anecdotal, but most of the people in my drunk driving classes (yeah, I’m a criminal) swear by Uber–it’s cheaper and more convenient than traditional taxis. But my home state of California won’t allow that loss of revenue so easily, and everyone here already assumes they’ll be lowering the legal limit to .05 (plus extend the period the DUI is on your record from 10 years to 15). It won’t make things any safer, but it’ll boost state revenue, and we all know that’s the only thing that matters.

    1. We’re all criminals.

      1. Unless we’re a Senator who drives drunk and kills someone. Then we’re not only not a criminal, we’re still a Senator.

        1. Sometimes a cancerous brain tumor is a very good thing.

    2. I fully support the creation of a federal alcohol offenders database, where once put on it, you are on it for life, and you must update your address any time you move.

      For the children.

      1. I realize you jest, but please don’t give anyone any crazy ideas…

  5. Does Uber raise their price at closing time? If not, why not?

    Either way, government will screw them – either they “gouge” and therefore “cause” people to drive drunk or they make the streets safer thus lessening the need for extra police patrols and denying the government “its” revenue.

    1. They do. They have pricing accelerators during exceptionally busy periods and on particularly heavy impact nights (NYE, Halloween, etc).

      1. So, take a cab at those times. The price will stabilize.

    2. Uber is experiencing the classic definition of anti-trust law:

      “You’re not allowed to charge more than your competitors. That’s gouging.”

      “You’re not allowed to charge less than your competitors. That’s predatory pricing.

      “You’re not allowed to charge the same as your competitors. That’s collusion.”

  6. In other words, Uber preys on drunk people who are in a diminished mental state. Drunksploitation.

    1. Well, there has to be a victim. And obviously it can’t be Uber, because it’s already been decided that they’re an evil threat to the public good.

      So the victim must be the drunk people. And it makes sense, because if the drunk people were out there driving drunk, they could get caught and go to jail and lose their licenses. Which would allow the government to save them from themselves.

      So there you go.

  7. So…

    They provide a service that people love, create competition keeping the cost down and furnish a free market solution to a problem the government hasn’t been able to solve with their iron fist?

    No wonder they are being banned.

    1. Credit where due, that captures everything very well.

  8. It looks as through Uber is being blocked out of the Seoul market by the local government

    “the City admits that it is preparing an Uber-like app of its own. “Seoul government is planning to provide a taxi-call service through a mobile application to offer user-friendly convenient taxi services to citizens,” its release said. “The application will be launched in December.”

    So is Korea’s clock being turned back?

    “Imagine a nation that claims to be assuming a ‘creative economy’ expelling the flagship creative economy brand, and replacing its service with its own government-controlled copycat,” said the source. “It is laughable.”

    But if it finds itself shoved out of a market that boasts some of the world’s highest smartphone penetration rates and keenest earlier adopters of new technologies and services, Uber’s laughter may ring hollow.”

    1. Uber will just do the same thing they do here: ignore the law, and win.

    2. This is how government expands in Asia. They take over areas they think are cool. Like broadband or wi-fi.

      The problem is that they actually run fairly well, by government standards.

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