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Do Ridesharing Services Cause a Decrease in DUIs?

Jason Reese

Ridesharing services, such as Uber or Lyft, are literally at the fingertips of people who are out having a good time. The services tend to operate via an app on smartphones and allow the user to quickly and easily arrange a ride home from their location. The services are particularly popular with young people, especially in cities where ridesharing can be infinitely more practical than owning a car. Some studies are now showing the influence may be even more widespread, with individuals choosing a ride-sharing service as an alternative to driving home after having had too much to drink.

Uber itself has conducted a study that suggests the introduction of Uber into the Seattle market created a 10% reduction in DUIs. At first, the data showing the “Uber effect” is convincing, both in Uber’s study and in the charts created by others looking to replicate the information for other cities. The Washington Post plots data for San Francisco and also shows similar info for another’s study of the data in Philadelphia. Both show a relatively steep decline in DUIs after ridesharing services begin; however, a closer look gives evidence that more research is needed before the case can really be settled.

The charted data for both Philadelphia and San Francisco show sharp increases in DUIS beginning in 2006-07, peaking in mid-2008 and mid-2009 respectively. In taking the long view of the information, it may be possible the decreases are not due to ridesharing but instead are simply a return to “normal” levels of DUI arrests after a period of high incidence. Despite this possibility, many critics of the Uber study and findings still believe it is likely that Uber, Lyft, and other similar services have indeed had at least a small effect on the patterns of drunk driving and DUI arrests.

Some May Still Hold Reservations

With a number of high profile cases in the media where drivers or passengers have behaved badly, even criminally, some people are still hesitant about using the services. In October 2015, a former Uber driver was sentenced to 10-12 in a state prison for aggravated rape, kidnapping, assault, and batter. Despite this and similar tragedies, nearly all of the research being done shows ridesharing to be just as safe as taxi service. Safety experts do have several critical steps an individual should take to ensure they are not putting themselves in danger:

  • Pay attention to the driver’s ratings on the app. Lower ratings are a good indicator you should look for another driver.
  • Wait inside while you wait for your ride. The app itself will tell you when your ride has arrived, so you need not wait outside in the dark.
  • Verify the identity of the car and driver prior to getting into the car. The app will provide you the driver’s first name, photo, license plate number and a picture of the vehicle and their driver’s rating. Verifying these items will ensure you don’t get into the vehicle with a fake driver.
  • Stay in touch with a friend or family member. The app will allow a friend or family member to see your estimated travel time, destination, and they can even follow the car along the route.

Have you or a loved one been impacted by a drunk driver? If so, the vehicular accident attorneys at Wagner Reese have the experience to help you potentially secure compensation and assist you with your recovery. In the case of wrongful death, we understand there is no way of replacing the loved one you have lost; however, we can help you ensure you and other family members are able to continue your lives without further pain and suffering. If you’ve been injured, or if you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligent driving, call our offices today at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a FREE consultation.

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