The popular ride-share service Uber recently released a statement indicating that drunk-driving incidents for people under 30 in cities where the company operates have dropped. The company’s announcement has been met with heated criticism.
The dispute started when Uber Vice President of Policy and Strategy David Plouffe sent out an email to Uber users saying, “Since we launched uberX in California, drunk-driving crashes decreased by 60 per month for drivers under 30,” said Plouffe. “That’s 1,800 crashes likely prevented over the past 2 ½ years.”
Plouffe was referring to a study coauthored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving that found California cities with Uber have experienced a drop in drunk driving crashes for the under-30 age demographic. The study also said cities across the country were experiencing a decrease in drunk driving incidents, but the cities with Uber showed the greatest change.
The Huffington Post has called out Uber for misleading the public about the actual results of the study. In an article titled, “Uber Can’t Really Prove That It’s Caused A Reduction In Drunk Driving Accidents,” The Huffington Post claimed that Uber was taking credit for reducing drunk driving when that correlation couldn’t be supported by the data.
Regardless of whether Uber can prove it is solely responsible for reducing drunk driving in these cities, the evidence that ride-sharing programs like Uber and its rival Lyft reduce drunk driving among young people is compelling. Amateur statistician Nate Good ran a compelling survey of the data for drunk-driving incidents in Philadelphia since the introduction of Uber to the city 2012. His data showed Philadelphia has seen a marked decrease in drunk-driving incidents since the arrival of Uber, although he qualified these results saying, “correlation does not equal causation.”
Getting a ride from Uber is clearly superior to driving home drunk and crashing or getting arrested. However, for people who are finding themselves with an increasing dependence on rides to get home safe, it may be time to take a look at your alcohol use. The problems associated with alcoholism and alcohol abuse extend beyond problems behind the wheel. Many people lose their health, relationships, and careers to alcohol abuse.
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