Are Ridesharing Services Really Reducing Drunk Driving Accidents?
Numerous fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. involve drunk drivers, and there’s no conclusive evidence proving that ridesharing reduces drunk driving. However, recent research seems to support the notion that rideshare services like Uber and Lyft help to reduce motor vehicle accidents and the subsequent injuries related to impaired driving.
Christopher Morrison, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, recently reviewed 20 studies that examined ridesharing. Seventeen of those studies linked ridesharing to fewer alcohol-related accidents. According to Morrison, who analyzes drinking and the problems it creates – including drunken driving and crashes – the evidence is clear. “One way to prevent these problems is by changing the environments in which people drink,” he said. “Ridesharing changes the transportation environment.”
Research conducted by McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston supports Morrison’s conclusion. The study found that after Uber was introduced to Houston in 2014, the following occurred:
- Trauma that is related to motor vehicle accidents fell by 23.8 percent for all ages on Friday and Saturday nights and 38.9 percent for those under 30 years of age.
- DUI arrests decreased, particularly on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
- Impaired driving arrests were reduced in Houston’s city center, where a higher utilization of rideshare services was recorded.
According to the UT researchers, “Introducing rideshare services to the Houston area was associated with a significant decrease in MVC trauma and impaired driving convictions,” particularly in those 30 years old or younger. The researchers reviewed rideshare data for Uber trips taken in Houston between January 2007 and December 2018, analyzing more than 24 million rides.
Another study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, concluded that ridesharing reduced alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the U.S. by 6.1 percent and total traffic fatalities dropped by 4 percent. According to the research, using Uber may have saved 214 lives from alcohol-related fatalities (494 total lives) in 2019.
However, other studies have produced mixed reviews regarding the relationship between ridesharing and traffic fatalities. One study found that Uber lowers the rate of DUIs and fatal accidents, although the relationship between the two could be negative or positive. Other research focused on city-level rollouts of Uber and Lyft and concluded that ridesharing increased traffic congestion, major traffic accidents, and a 2 to 4 percent increase in the number of fatal traffic accidents.
Why does ridesharing make a difference in the frequency of drunk driving accidents?
Designated drivers, carpools, and taxis have been around for a long time, so why does ridesharing affect accidents and injuries related to impaired driving?
According to a 2021 UPI report, ridesharing is less expensive, more convenient, and easier to access than taxis, and designated drivers and carpools can be unreliable. Here are more reasons that rideshare apps can help decrease drunk driving accidents:
- Uber and Lyft can be booked through phone apps, giving impaired people no excuse not to make the right decision.
- Rideshare services allow those who have been drinking to avoid the temptation of driving drunk.
- If your designated driver begins to drink, rideshare apps will allow you and your friends to get home safely.
Another reason for the popularity of Uber, Lyft, and other such services: according to Investopedia, rideshare customers also typically get where they are going faster than they would via taxis.
Drunk driving in Pennsylvania is still a major concern
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), traffic fatalities in the state increased 9 percent from 2020 to 2021. However, fatalities in accidents involving driver impairment dropped from 471 in 2020 to 450 in 2021. Although impaired driving fatalities in the state have decreased over the past 15 years, they continue to remain high, accounting for over 35 percent of the traffic deaths reported in 2021.
Pennsylvania recently toughened the penalties for repeat DUI offenders when it passed “Deana’s Law” in July 2022. Deana’s Law is named after 45-year-old Deana DeRosa Eckman, who was killed when she was hit head-on by a drunk driver who was driving with a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit – it was his sixth DUI. When it takes effect in November 2022, Deana’s Law will revise sentencing for habitual DUI offenders from concurrent sentences (serving multiple sentences at the same time) to consecutive sentences (serving each sentence in succession).
Pennsylvania has a three-tier system for DUI violations:
- General impairment (.08 to .99 percent BAC)
- High BAC (.10 to .159 percent BAC)
- Highest BAC (.16 percent and higher).
A combination of an individual’s BAC level and prior offenses determines the licensing requirements and penalties for those convicted of DUI. Minors, commercial truck drivers, the operators of school vehicles or bus drivers, and those involved in an accident that leads to injury or property damage may be subject to high BAC penalties, even if their BAC does not fall into the high BAC category. Those who refuse breath or chemical testing may be subject to the highest BAC penalties. The state focuses on treatment for first-time offenders rather than just punishment and license suspension.
Although there is evidence that rideshare services may decrease the incidence of drunk driving accidents and serious injuries, many people still make the wrong choice and drive while under the influence. While everyone makes mistakes, some can affect your life and the lives of others more than others. If you were injured by a drunk driver in Gettysburg, regardless of whether you were in an Uber or Lyft at the time, we can help. If you were hurt because of a negligent Uber or Lyft driver, we can assist with that as well.
Pennsylvania law takes drunk driving accidents very seriously. If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by an impaired driver, contact KBG Injury Law or call 717-366-8080 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney experienced in drunk driving accidents. With additional offices in York, Lancaster, Hanover, and Harrisburg,, we represent people throughout South Central Pennsylvania who have been injured in drunk driving accidents and rideshare accidents and help them recover fair compensation for their injuries.
The personal injury attorneys at KBG Injury Law are all experienced litigators. Almost all of them represented insurance companies prior to becoming advocates for injured people, which provides them with a unique perspective and insight into how these companies operate. They also offer extensive courtroom experience if going to trial is the best legal alternative for the client.