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Does Uber really prevent drunk driving?

Uber often claims that its services help to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road. If you have spent a late night out on the town in Massachusetts and had a few drinks, you probably have taken Uber home instead of driving. However, a new study shows that while this helped to prevent you from drunk driving, Uber has no overall effect on drunk driving fatalities.

According to a CNN report, cities where Uber was a popular mode of transportation saw no decrease in drunk driving fatalities. To come to this conclusion, researchers selected 100 cities in America with the highest population counts and studied drunk driving data between 2009 and 2014 for these areas. Not only did Uber not reduce drunk driving at the most likely times, such as on the weekends, but it had no effect overall.

One reason put forward by the study is that even though drunk people do take Uber home, it may not be an alternative to their car. For instance, responsible drivers may already know when to park their ride at home and travel with a friend or take a cab. This is a precaution they probably would have taken whether or not Uber or even Lyft was a viable option.

However, drunk drivers who already drove their cars out may believe it is better to just drive home for free than pay for a ride. There may be plausible reason for them to believe they may not get caught, when you consider that only 1.1 million people are arrested for drunk driving each year. This may sound like a lot until you compare it to the fact that there are 121 million incidents of drunk driving annually.

Though the study does not directly address this issue, it appears that Uber’s ability to reduce drunk driving fatalities comes down to consumer choice. People have to make a choice not to drive drunk. Because alcohol impairs judgment, ultimately it may be up to bartenders, security guards and good friends to help steer people away from their cars when they have had one drink too many.

This article provides information on Uber’s impact on drunk driving fatalities and should not be used as legal advice.

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