A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology on July 22 suggests that, despite the massive popularity of ride-sharing services like Uber, fatalities from holiday, weekend, and drinking-related activities have remained consistent.
The research team, University of Southern California (USC) Post-doctoral Research Associate Noli Brazil and University of Oxford Associate Professor David S. Kirk, suggest that there still may not be enough drivers on the road to really make a change to drunk driving fatalities, and that the people who use ride-sharing services are the same ones who would have called a taxi service in the past.
Brazil and Kirk used county by county traffic fatality statistics from the 100 most populous cities between 2005 and 2014, and compared the areas where ride-sharing services became available to areas without such services. While Uber claims on its website that 60 fewer crashes involving drunk drivers under the age of 30 occur each month in California cities served by their drivers, the researchers found nothing to support those claims in their study.
Uber currently employs around 450,000 drivers in 490 cities across the globe, compared to the 210 million drivers with licenses in the United States. The study estimates that 4.2 million of those drivers do so while impaired, leading Brazil and Kirk’s belief that there simply aren’t enough drivers to noticeably reduce drunk driving-related fatalities. In an interview with the Washington Post, Kirk said,
“Sure, there are over 1 million arrests for drunk driving a year in the United States. . . .[B]ut that’s nothing compared to the number of people and the number of incidents of drunk driving. In the grand scheme of the massive volume of drunk drivers on the road, it’s hard to foresee Uber making a dent, unless the growth continues like it has for several more years.”
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