Today’s guest post comes to us from Ben Landman, a content specialist at the law offices of Isaac Abraham.

UberX: the ride sharing program that allows independent contractors to partner with Uber in order to provide rides for people who need them. The rates are lower than taxis, and Uber is slowly being made available in a number of cities that don’t have a good public transportation system. Uber isn’t just handy transportation for people who don’t have cars or whose cars aren’t working, however. It also provides a safe alternative to drunk driving. In fact, some studies suggest that UberX may have caused a significant drop in the number of drunk driving crashes in the cities where it operates.

Philadelphia’s Temple University’s Study

A study conducted by Professors Brad Greenwood and Sunil Wattal indicates that in cities where UberX is active, deaths due to accidents caused by alcohol dropped as much as 5.6%. The study goes on to show that in California, adding UberX to a city caused a drop of at least 3.6%. The study, which covers data from 2009 to 2014, indicates that UberX could eliminate as many as 500 accidents nationwide each year.

What’s Different About UberX?

The Uber app is convenient, easy to use, and highly functional. It’s also inexpensive. While there has historically been a price increase around holidays and other big events when the need for Uber rises, on a normal day, though, riding with Uber is less expensive than hailing a taxi. Uber also offers an UberPOOL option in some cities, where customers are able to share a trip and split the cost of the ride with another individual. Uber’s easy availability and inexpensive nature empowers people to make better choices, setting up a ride instead of driving when inebriated.

Is the Data Purely Correlational?

As wonderful as it sounds, is Uber really preventing drunk driving accidents? Some research suggests that the shift in drunk driving habits may be co-relational, rather than caused by the presence of Uber. This study suggests that drunk driving rates have been declining throughout California anyway, and that the presence of Uber might not have had a substantial impact on those habits.

MADD’s Stance

Mother’s Against Drunk Driving strongly supports Uber’s spread to as many cities as possible. 4 out of 5 individuals surveyed indicated that their friends were less likely to get behind the wheel while still under the influence of alcohol when ride-hailing apps were available. 57% admitted that if they didn’t have a source of transportation available, they’d be more likely to drive after having one too many. MADD eagerly supports these programs that have done so much to keep drunk drivers off the streets. If statistics hold true, says NY traffic attorney Isaac Abraham, Uber could potentially have prevented as many as 60 crashes a month in cities in California where it has been put into place.

The bottom line?

Uber hasn’t yet been able to prove conclusively whether or not their presence actually decreases drunk driving incidents. There is still a question of whether the under-30 population, which is more likely to drive drunk, is the population that is most likely to use Uber. Opponents of the program also point out that the overall drop in drunk driving over the last several years could reflect a cultural shift more than anything to do with Uber. However, UberX, the lowest-cost option for ride seekers, has certainly saved lives simply by providing an alternative option to drunken individuals. Further research is ultimately needed in order to fully understand the effect that Uber has on the populations it serves.

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