Ride-hailing services may reduce drunk driving, Uber-MADD report says

Ride-hailing services like Uber could be contributing to a decrease in drunk-driving crashes.
(Quique Garcia / AFP/Getty Images)

Ride-hailing services like Uber, Sidecar and Lyft may be lowering instances of drunk driving, according to a report produced by Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The report focused on some of the company’s earliest markets including California, New York and Washington, D.C., comparing alcohol-related crash data from each state’s highway patrol for the years 2011 to 2013, which encompasses the year before and the year after UberX entered the markets. In California, drunk-driving crashes fell 6.5% among drivers under 30 in cities where Uber operates in the year after the launch of UberX.

UberX launched in California in 2012, around the same time competitors Lyft and Sidecar also launched.


Though the study did not definitively attribute the reduction in drunk-driving crashes to the availability of such services, the collective effort of ride-hailing companies is good news for MADD and those on the road. The results of the study represent potentially 60 fewer drunk-driving crashes each month in California, or a total of 1,800 crashes avoided since July 2012.

A survey released alongside the report, conducted by Benenson Strategy Group, polled 807 people from 19 of Uber’s earliest markets about their attitudes toward the service. The survey found that people were increasingly becoming aware of ride-hailing services as a viable alternative to drunk driving, with 78% of respondents saying their friends were less likely to drive drunk since services like Uber started operating in their cities.

“When we got the results, we were just crazy excited to see the results Uber was getting,” said Colleen Sheehey-Church, MADD national president, whose 18-year old son was killed in a drunk-driving crash. “With so many reliable and accessible options at people’s fingertips, there are no more excuses to drink and drive.”

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