Has Drunk Driving Decreased Since Uber?
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Has Drunk Driving Decreased Since Uber?

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Studies have found that drunk driving arrests have gone down since Uber ridesharing services began. However, the problem of drunk driving is far from over.  

Does Uber decrease drunk driving? 

Uber’s impact on drunk driving statistics has been unevenly felt, according to a 2017 study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In combing over data from Portland, Las Vegas, Reno, and San Antonio, they found that alcohol-related crashes were reduced by 60 percent in Portland and fell in San Antonio as well, but boozy collisions did not decrease at all in Reno. Surprisingly, even when there were fewer DUI accidents, the total number of traffic accidents for all causes did not drop. These cities were chosen because they had similar rideshare histories where Uber service was launched, discontinued, and later brought back. The resumption of Uber was not associated with a decrease in the number of serious crashes or injuries, researchers said.  

How much has drunk driving decreased with Uber in California? 

Uber got its start in San Francisco in 2009. Two years later, the city had a 14 percent decrease in drunk driving arrests. Sacramento and San Jose saw even bigger impacts with 26 and 28 percent decreases, respectively. 

Los Angeles didn’t get Uber until March 2012, but the effect mirrored San Francisco with 14 percent fewer drunk driving arrests. This percentage drop correlates with 1,154 fewer arrests compared to the two-year period before Uber arrived, according to Mercury News

Drunk driving is still a worry in Los Angeles and other Californian cities   

Should the average motorist worry about being struck and maimed or killed by a drunk driver? The results are mixed. 

  • The results are promising overall, as many moderate drinkers in the cities err on the side of caution. One study found drunk driving deaths overall decreased 3.6 percent in most of California’s urban centers, following the availability of Uber. West Hollywood saw a large dip in drunk driving arrests, down 34 percent from 2018 to 2019 – the result of more aggressive police enforcement and campaigning, not just Uber’s presence. Generally speaking, ridesharing is a step in the right direction, as it makes the choice easier for people to rely on public transportation, rather than driving themselves if they know they’ll be drinking.  
  • Still, drunk driving hasn’t gone away. Even with ridesharing available, there were still 6,994 drunk driving accidents in Los Angeles from 2012-2014. Over the past decade, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department averaged six DUI arrests per day. In 2019, 5 percent of these DUI arrests resulted in death or serious injury. When compared to the nation, L.A. has an 8 percent higher DUI rate.   
  • It seems the drunkest drivers are still out there, wreaking havoc. DUI fatalities of 0.08% BAC or higher in the state followed an upward trajectory of 16.3 percent, from 911 in 2015 to 1,059 in 2016.  
  • Holidays increase the risk of drunk-driving related injuries and deaths. Uber contends that “at least 80 percent” of its riders say the service has helped them avoid driving under the influence. Their peak times continue to be during partying and barhopping hours. However, a 2016 study by Oxford University and the University of Southern California found that ridesharing had no effect on holiday drinking or weekend fatalities. Their hypothesis was that there may not be enough Uber cars available to bring the numbers down. Also, many of the intoxicated individuals using Uber would have otherwise called a taxi cab. The authors concluded, “At least through the first 5 years after the advent of Uber’s rideshare services, this transportation revolution has not yet translated into aggregate declines in metropolitan-area traffic fatalities.” 

You can take action against drunk drivers 

Drunk driving accidents are 100% preventable. Motorists who break the law need to be held accountable. A Los Angeles Uber accident lawyer from Ellis Injury Law can help you recover maximum damages to provide for the best possible rehabilitation or to compensate your family in the event of tragic loss. While criminal charges are often pressed to put drunk drivers behind bars or revoke their driving privileges, you can also pursue compensation for your losses in civil court to balance the scales of justice. Contact us for a free consultation. It costs you nothing upfront or out of pocket to explore your legal options. 

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