Uber has often claimed that its headline-making taxi app has been a key factor for the reduction of drink driving cases. However, reports from the US state that this may not quite be the case.
A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology has not found any real reductions in the amount of road traffic deaths caused by drink driving in the US cities where Uber is being used.
“Obviously, the rise of Uber and Lyft has been incredible, and we were curious about potential implications,” said David Kirk, from the University of Oxford, who coauthored the study.
David Kirk and the study’s co-author Noli Brazil drafted their paper around data from the top 100 most populated metro areas in the US.
The data that they were interested in was that relating to drink driving between 2009 and 2014.
Contrary to the marketing rhetoric, Kirk and Brazil could not find any data that showed a decrease in drink driving deaths following the introduction of Uber.
This data was examined in an “overall” situation as well as peak drinking times such as weekend nights.
The study has suggested that the outcome of the report could be for a number of reasons.
- Many people are using Uber as an alternative to hailing a taxi or using public transport at the end of the night.
- Drink drivers may already be less rational at the point of decision and may think that driving home is cheaper than taking a taxi.
- The actual number of Uber users may still be too low to make a noticeable impact in drink driving related deaths on US roads.
It is interesting to note that figures suggest that there are 1.1 million arrests for drink driving in the US per year. However, it is also suggested that there are 121 million incidents of drunk driving in the US every year.
Uber insists that its service can help lower the rates or drink driving and drink driving related deaths. The company often references a report that shows Uber usage has lowered the drink driving related death rate in California by between 3.6% and 5.6%. In response to this Kirk states that his study used a different set of data controls which are “arguably more complete”.
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