Back in the day, if you wanted to get somewhere and you didn’t have a car or didn’t want to drive your own vehicle, you would call a taxi. While taxis can be incredibly convenient, they are not available everywhere in the country and rates vary from service to service. In 2009, Uber was just getting started and was unaware of just how much they would change the transportation industry. Now that Uber and other rideshare services are mainstream, we’ve discovered an added bonus these companies provide.
Recently, the Journal of American Medical Association published a study showing that Uber’s presence in a city helps reduce the rate of accidents involving drunk drivers. In the study, researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston examined DUI arrests and serious motor vehicle incidents in Houston between 2007 and 2019.
Their research found that after Uber came to Houston in 2014, motor vehicle collision traumas decreased by almost 24% on Friday and Saturday nights for all ages. For those under the age of 30, this number decreased by nearly 40%. Additionally, DUI arrests dropped significantly for every day of the week, and weekends saw the greatest reduction. In Houston’s city center, which had higher usage of Uber than the suburbs, all categories of impaired driving arrests decreased.
Uber says it has also gathered information from its rider base via surveys that shows riders who use their service avoid drinking and driving. Brooke Anderson, Uber’s director of product communications, has previously stated that “80% of riders say that Uber has helped them personally avoid drinking and driving.”
On the opposite side, a study published back in 2016 by the American Journal of Epidemiology found that the rise of Uber didn’t correspond to any decrease in fatalities because the people riding in an Uber were more likely to take taxis or public transportation instead of their own cars anyway.
While contradictory arguments continue about the effectiveness of rideshare services in decreasing drunk driving accidents, one thing is for sure: If you’ve been drinking and need to get somewhere, it’s much safer to take an Uber or other rideshare to your destination than drive yourself.