Car-hailing app Uber prides itself on helping those intoxicated not get behind a driving wheel. A new study conducted by University of Southern California and the UK’s Oxford University, however, revealed that the reputation of curbing drunk driving is not necessarily true.
The study points out that Uber sounds like a valid alternative to drunk driving because of its convenience and low cost, highlighting its advertising campaigns which suggest the very same. However, looking at the 121 million episodes of drunk driving which result to a yearly 10,000 traffic fatalities in the United States, the researchers found little change in the morbid statistics despite the introduction of the ridesharing app in most cities.
“We exploited differences in the timing of the deployment of Uber in US metropolitan counties from 2005 to 2014 to test the association between the availability of Uber’s rideshare services and total, drunk driving-related, and weekend and holiday-specific traffic fatalities in the 100 most populated metropolitan areas in the United States using negative binomial and Poisson regression models,” the study reads.
“We found that the deployment of Uber services in a given metropolitan county had no association with the number of subsequent traffic fatalities, whether measured in aggregate or specific to drunk-driving fatalities or fatalities during weekends and holidays,” the study adds.
The study states that the lack of association could be due to the ratio of Uber cars to other means of transportation in the metropolitan areas. It also suggests that, because Uber is an alternative to taxis, it would make sense that those who already chose to get into a taxi would use the app but does not affect the decision one makes to begin with.
“Uber may be a substitute for taxis and other forms of public transportation but not a substitute for drunk driving. Accordingly, Uber passengers may have formerly been taxi and public transit users, and thus the number of at-risk drivers on the road would not substantially change,” the study says.
Previous research by Uber and researchers at Temple University have contradicted the finding of the new study.