July 14, 2015 By Matthew Wallin
Uber drunk driving
Is Uber really helping reduce drunk driving?

Recently, the ride-hailing service Uber released a report claiming drunk driving incidents have decreased among young drivers in cities that Uber services. Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) conducted a study that they say shows Uber can be a “powerful tool in the fight to reduce the number of drunk driving crashes.”1

After the study was completed, Uber emailed its users saying that there are 59 less drunk driving crashes involving drivers under age 30 in California each month since Uber launched there. The email said the company likely prevented 1,800 crashes in that time.2

What Did Uber’s Study Find?

Uber compared alcohol-related accident trends for people above 30 and people below 30 in California for areas it services to areas where the service is not available. Uber reported the findings show that monthly alcohol-related accidents decreased in areas it services, but accident data provided by the California Highway Patrol also shows a decrease in areas where Uber doesn’t operate. The report did not mention this.3

While the key graphs in the report show a downward trend, Uber does not show in the data how Uber’s services directly relate to the drop in drunk driving. Instead, it implies that it does. It also does not show that the population Uber is claiming to affect is indeed who is using Uber.

Uber credits their analysis to Nate Good, who they said found a downward trend in alcohol-related accidents. However, Good told ProPublica he analyzed DUI arrests, not crashes because he could not find a “reliable data source.”4

Is California Reducing Drunk Driving?

drunk driving accident
Drunk driving accidents have actually declined in some California cities.

While the study seems to be based on data that shows a downward trend in alcohol-related vehicle accidents in cities where Uber operates, the overall downward trend in drunk driving crashes dilutes the point Uber is trying to make. MADD Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Amy George said the report showed a correlation relationship only, not a causation relationship and warned against connecting Uber to decreased drunk driving rates, according to ProPublica.5

While Uber’s report makes a decent case for the importance of alternate transportation areas where DUI arrests and DUI-related vehicle accidents are common, it fails to prove that Uber has a direct impact on drunk driving incidents.

Has Uber Made an Impact on Drunk Driving Rates? Share Your Feedback with Us

Do you agree with the Uber and MADD study that suggests Uber services have caused a decrease in drunk driving incidents? What are some of the reasons you believe it is important to understand the statistics behind such a claim? Do you think that Uber reported data that supported the service? Do you feel that Uber does decrease incidents of drunk driving? Have you ever used Uber? Would you recommend it to others? What forms of alternative transportation do you use when drunk driving?

We at Wallin & Klarich would like to hear from you about this topic. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

1. http://www.madd.org/media-center/press-releases/2015/new-report-from-madd-uber.html

2. Id.

3. https://newsroom.uber.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/UberMADD-Report.pdf

4. http://www.propublica.org/article/uber-claims-credit-for-drop-in-drunk-driving-accidents-but-wheres-evidence

5. Id.

6. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Uber_ride_Bogota_(10277864666).jpg

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