The ride-sharing service Uber has been under a barrage of fire lately for everything from the way it pays its workers to questions of whether it wrongly advertises safety claims to issues of liability for crashes.
But there is apparently one bit of good news to emerge recently.
A study conducted by Philadelphia’s Temple University analyzes the effect of this service on alcohol-related traffic deaths. Researchers looked at the data collected on DUI fatalities from a five year span, stretching from 2009 through 2014 in California. The ride-sharing phenomenon has picked up a great deal of steam there.
What they discovered was this: In cities where ride-sharing services were prevalent, incidents of alcohol-related traffic accidents dropped by nearly 6 percent.
That may not sound like a lot, but consider that impaired driving kills an estimated 13,000 people in the U.S. each year. So if this kind of service could gain traction nationally, it could potentially help to prevent the deaths of some 780 people every single year.
In some cities, the drop was not quite as dramatic, but still noticeable. The lowest noted change in the DUI death rate was 3.6 percent. That’s significant.
Remember too that those losses affect far more than just the individual who is deceased. Those people are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, beloved friends and valued bosses and co-workers.
Bear in mind too that the economic burden resulting from DUI accident deaths nationally is $27 billion every single year.
The company was not affiliated with the study, though it was apprised of the findings.
The idea to launch it came from a professor who had drunk too much at a wedding, and sought a ride home through the mobile application service. That sparked his curiosity as to how many other people were utilizing the service for this purpose. Users say it tends to be cheaper, faster and easier than catching a taxi cab, which may explain its growing popularity and dramatic effect in just a few years. The application also alerts users to exactly how long their wait time is, a feature that some say especially appeals to many customers who are inebriated.
It’s worth noting the positive effects are diminished over holidays and times when celebratory drinking is standard. That’s because the rates spike, and fewer people seek out the service.
The ride-sharing industry is still rife with legal issues, and mostly that stems from lack of regulation on this new model of transportation. It’s important to remember, though, that a lot of that backlash comes from the already-established institutions.
The outcome of this study suggests there is benefit to learning more about how we can continue to offer people a safe, affordable alternative to driving drunk, and how we do so in a way that ensures that drivers are reasonably paid and properly vetted and insured.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Uber Actually Reduces Drunk-Driving Deaths, Aug. 6, 2015, By Charlotte Lytton, The Daily Beast
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