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Ride Sharing Services Might Curtail Drunk Driving

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[Uber ad - photo of couple walking arm-in-arm down street; copy reads "Treating Yourself: Step it up when you step out for a big night"]

Ad for the Uber ride-sharing service

A computer science professional has come up with a theory that ride sharing services might be contributing to a drop in DUIs, especially among people under age 30. In a post titled “DUI Trends and Ride Sharing,” Nate Good writes that, though he is not a statistician, he came to his conclusions after analyzing Pennsylvania’s Uniform Crime Reporting system data for Philadelphia.

As Queen Muse writes for, the decrease that Good found coincided with the advent of such ride sharing services as Uber Black, Side Car, and UberX. Those services make it possible for people to request and pay for transportation via smartphone apps. Muse writes:

According to Good’s analysis of the data, the average number of DUI’s per month in Philadelphia decreased by 11 percent between April and December, 2013; the number of DUI’s among drivers under the age of 30 saw an even higher decrease of 18.5 percent.

Three major ride share services, Uber Black, Side Car, and UberX, had begun operating in the city during the same months.

Uber launched a campaign with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) earlier this month in which Uber will donate $1 per ride to MADD for every ride booked through its app, Muse writes. Muse quotes Uber CEO Travis Kalanick as saying the company’s services directly correlated to a reduction in drunk driving in Seattle. In a press release, Kalanick said Uber’s analysis shows a 10% reduction in drunk driving since people started using its service, Muse writes.

On the Washington Post’s wonkblog, Emily Badger writes that ride sharing services “give the bar-hopping demographic a better way to get home at night, and, as a result, they may help cut down on DUIs.” In CityLab, Sommer Mathis writes that perhaps the best way to end drunk driving is to end driving altogether (a point that advocates for self-driving cars have made, as this blog has noted). Traditional cab companies have been advertising their services in bar restroom stalls for years, suggesting that inebriated patrons call a cab to drive them home, Badger writes.

Good writes that his data analysis does not necessarily tell the whole story, Badger points out, writing: “This data doesn’t tell us, for instance, about what was happening in late 2007 that led to an earlier spike in DUIs (as the economy sours, more people drink?).”

In her CityLab article, Washington, D.C., resident Sommer Mathis writes that on a recent trip to Tucson, Ariz., it made sense to call a ride share service when she and her boyfriend planned an evening of drinking to celebrate their engagement. “The choice to use UberX and leave our rental car at the hotel that night was a no-brainer,” she writes. Before 2007, Mathis writes, there were times that she risked driving while impaired: “Maybe I was even over-the-legal-limit drunk at times, but just dumb-lucky enough never to have been pulled over.” But her behavior regarding drinking and driving changed when she moved to D.C., “a city in which there is basically no excuse ever to drink and drive,” she writes.


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