The findings of a new study indicate increasing use of rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft, helped reduce the number of drunk driving accidents and injuries in recent years.
Following the rollout of Uber in 2014, the number of alcohol-related car accident injuries decreased by 24%, according to data published last week in the journal JAMA Surgery.
University of Texas researchers set out to determine if ride shares services, like Uber and Lyft, were linked to changes in car accident trauma rates by reducing the number of impaired drivers. They conducted a multi-center study from January 2007 to November 2019 using hospital data from two major trauma centers in Houston, Texas. They also used convictions from the Harris County, Texas, District Attorney’s office and rideshare use data from Uber and Google taken within Houston, Texas since February 2014; the date Uber was first launched in Houston.
Uber and Lyft are rideshare services which allow users to book and pay for car services using apps on a smartphone. Rides can be long or short distance, and are available in most metropolitan areas 24 hours a day, allowing more people who are intoxicated to use rideshare instead of driving.
The study data indicates rideshare services appeared to reduce the number of accidents. Following the introduction of Uber in 2014, injuries from motor vehicle crashes decreased by 24% during peak trauma periods, such as Friday and Saturday night, according to the findings.
“Rideshare use was linked with a significant, geographically linked reduction in impaired driving convictions between January 2014 and December 2019,” the researchers wrote.
There was also a significant decrease in convictions for intoxicated or impaired driving, which researchers say was also linked to the introduction of rideshare services.
The findings suggest the reduction in car accident injuries was most evident among people younger than 30 years, who are more likely to use rideshare services.
The researchers determined rideshare services helped reduce the number of drunk-driving related accidents and injuries overall by simply offering access to rides to people who are intoxicated and prevents drunk driving.
“In this study, introducing rideshare services in the Houston metropolitan area was associated with significant reductions in motor vehicle crash traumas and impaired driving convictions,” the researchers wrote. “Increased use of rideshares may be an effective means of reducing impaired driving and decreasing rate of motor vehicle crash traumas.”