Economists from the University of California, Berkeley have authored a report analyzing proprietary data from Uber. According to the report, the rideshare company helped prevent more than 200 drunk driving-related deaths in 2019.
The report was published in the National Bureau of Economic Research. It found that Uber prevented the deaths of 214 people. That marks a reduction in deaths of just over six percent. Traffic deaths went down overall by four percent in the United States.
According to David Lucas, an economist and co-author of the report, “When we do the analysis with that neighborhood-level data, which no one else has used before, we find neighborhoods that saw increases in Uber see decreases in alcohol-related traffic fatalities. […] To the extent that ridesharing is a better substitute for driving for dining and entertainment trips, ridesharing activity should have stronger effects during the night than day. […] Some fatal crashes with no reported alcohol involvement nevertheless involve alcohol, and we also estimate models that specify any fatal crash as the dependent variable.”
The report was not able to measure the effect of access to public transportation and taxis on drunk driving deaths. However, states with the lowest rates of traffic accidents linked to alcohol have large urban centers where alternatives to driving are accessible.
This is not the first study that has measured Uber’s effect on traffic deaths, but prior studies have produced mixed results. For example, a 2016 report from the University of South California found that Uber did not have any noticeable effect on traffic fatalities in major metropolitan areas.
Another study, which was conducted by a team of physicians at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, analyzed DUI arrests and fatal drunk driving-related trauma from 2007 and 2019. When Uber entered the Houston market in February 2014, UT doctors saw a 23.8% decrease in car accidents on Friday and Saturday nights. DUI arrests also decreased, especially on the weekends.
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