Uber is saving lives by reducing drunk driving, says study

Despite constant public service announcements begging us not to drive while drunk, it still happens, and it accounts for one-third of traffic-related fatalities in the U.S. Getting people to give up their cars and their booze is tough. But a new study out of New York suggests that ride-sharing apps like Uber might be helping.

A paper by Jessica Lynn Peck of the Graduate Centre at the City University of New York dug into New York’s specific situation to find out how ride-sharing apps are changing things. In the greater New York state, those apps are still outright banned, forcing people to call a cab. In New York City proper, though, Uber is available and saw quick adoption throughout four of the five boroughs. Peck compared the accident rates in those boroughs to counties in which Uber is still banned, matching up population density.

Yup, it made a difference

In boroughs where it was adopted quickly, Peck saw notable declines in drunk-driving deaths, as the graph above from The Economist shows.

America is a car country. Our city layouts, the way we think about getting around, our sense of freedom, they’re all based around cars. It’s hard to get people to put down their keys, because that means giving up freedom. If ride-sharing apps can do that, though, it’s a step in the right direction. Some day, self-driving cars could sink these numbers even further.

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