Does Ridesharing Help Reduce Drunk Driving Accidents?

by | Aug 19, 2014 | Car Accident

Ridesharing Reduces Drunk Driving

Could the introduction of ridesharing services to Oklahoma City aid in the reduction of drunk driving accidents?  Some traffic data from cities that have ridesharing programs offer a preliminary indication that drunk driving arrests have decreased, particularly among young people, the group most likely to be bar-hopping.

Ridesharing is exploding in popularity in large cities across the country. Services like Lyft, Uber, and GetAroundOK allow users to request and pay for transportation using an app on their cell phones.

Cities credit ridesharing for decrease in drunk driving crashes

Ridesharing services began operating in Philadelphia in 2012 and three services were up and running by April 2013.  An analysis of drunk driving arrest data in Philadelphia by blogger and computer statistician Nate Good found that monthly DUI arrests decreased 11 percent from April to December 2013 compared to the eight previous years, according to NBC Philadelphia. The decrease in DUI arrests was particularly notable among drivers under the age of 30. A comparison of the average monthly DUI arrests among drivers under age 30 showed an 18.5 percent decrease in the second half of 2013.

Taylor Bennett, a spokesperson for Uber (one of the rideshare services active in both Philly and Oklahoma City), said that a reduction in drunk driving may be an unintended, but positive social impact of the ridesharing service, according to

Interested in Good’s analysis, Uber released some data about rider usage in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Uber said requests for rides in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh come disproportionately from bars, suggesting that Uber users recognize the transportation service is a reliable way to get home safely after a night on the town. Uber also noted that requests for rides in these cities peak on weekends from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. when bars close. That also happens to be the most dangerous time during the week for DUI accidents to occur.

Uber said if even a smaller number of the people at bars had tried to drive themselves home if Uber were not available, then it’s safe to conclude that the ridesharing service is taking drunk drivers off the road.

MADD backs ridesharing and joins Uber campaign

In July, Uber teamed up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to discourage drunk driving around July 4th, one of the most dangerous holidays for drunk driving. Uber pledged to donate to MADD for riders who booked a ride using a special promotional code over the Independence Day holiday.

In Seattle, Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick said that evidence shows the ridesharing program led to a 10 percent decrease in drunk driving arrests since Uber began operating in the city, according to a MADD press release.

“For years, we have heard anecdotally that riders rely on Uber instead of drinking and driving—and now we’re able to measure the impact that choice has on DUI rates,” Kalanick said in the press release.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has spoken out in support of rideshare programs as an effective way of reducing drunk driving accidents, according to USA Today. Obviously, intoxicated people with reliable drivers will not try to get behind the wheel themselves.

MADD National President Jan Withers said drunk driving is entirely preventable and MADD is proud to join forces with Uber to help prevent drunk driving. “With easy, reliable services like Uber, there is no reason for anybody to get behind the wheel while impaired,” Withers said.

OKC partiers already choosing rideshare over drunk driving

Last year, a reporter from talked to an Uber driver in OKC, who said he’s provided sober driving services to partiers before. The service, the driver said, allows people to go have fun without worrying about how they’ll get home or if the cab will show up.

The driver pointed out that unlike other big cities, Oklahoma City is very spread out and “car-dependent”. More than likely, if you’re going out on the town for the evening, your destination isn’t within walking distance of home.

With several ridesharing services active in OKC, people who would otherwise depend on taxi services or a designated driver have another option to get home safely.

For more on OKC rideshare services, including safety tips, see our blog post on Ridesharing Safety.