Rideshare Services Give MADD Reason to Be Glad
After all, the more convenient it is to let someone else do the driving, the less likely people will be to chance getting behind the wheel after a few drinks. “Technology and rideshare services like Uber, Lyft and Luxe, all of which are MADD partners, play a critical part to help prevent drunk driving,” said Colleen Sheehey-Church, MADD’s national president. “More safe rides equal more safe roads.”
In a conversation with Promises, Sheehey-Church shared her thoughts about the spreading rideshare phenomenon and what MADD has discovered about how such services are affecting the safety of everyone on the road.
Question: What can you tell us about the impact of ridesharing services such as Uber on drunk driving statistics?
Sheehey-Church: MADD and Uber released a first-of-its-kind study in January that showed technology services do help reduce drunk driving. In California, drunk driving crashes decreased by 6.5%, or 60 per month, among drivers under 30 (the highest risk groups) in markets where Uber operates following the launch of UberX [its most economical option]. That’s an estimated 1,800 drunk driving crashes prevented since UberX entered the market in July 2012.
A recent study out of Temple University complements the results of the MADD-Uber joint data report — that more, easier, and cheaper options to get home safely help reduce drunk driving. The study shows that when you reduce the cost of getting home safely and increase the availability of affordable options, in this case with UberX, then fewer people will drive drunk.
Q: Young adults who might not dream of calling a taxi seem to be very comfortable using Uber and similar services, and ridesharing appears to be replacing the designated driver during a night out on the town. Have you found this to be true?
Sheehey-Church: Yes, and we are incredibly encouraged by these stories. The highest percentage of drunk drivers are ages 21 to 34. This coincides with a significant number of rideshare customers and shows the positive evolution of the “designated driver” from a non-drinking friend to also include a non-drinking driver service.
In the joint MADD/Uber study, respondents shared their perception of Uber, why they use it, and how it impacts drunk driving:
- 88% of respondents over the age of 21 agreed with the statement that “Uber has made it easier for me to avoid driving home when I’ve had too much to drink.”
- 78% of people said that since Uber launched in their city, their friends are less likely to drive after drinking.
- 57% of transportation network service users agreed with the statement: “Without Uber, I’d probably end up driving more after drinking at a bar or restaurant.”
- And after hearing about Uber’s impact on drunk driving already, 93% of people would recommend a friend take Uber instead of driving if the friend had been drinking.
Q: It seems clear, then, that ridesharing services are making our roads safer, but how are we doing overall as a nation in terms of responsible driving?
Sheehey-Church: Since MADD’s founding in 1980, drunk driving deaths have been cut in half. But we won’t stop until there are no more victims. In 2013, there were 10,076 drunk driving deaths and more than 290,000 drunk driving injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That means someone is injured in a drunk driving crash every two minutes and someone is killed every 52 minutes.
MADD is credited with single-handedly changing the narrative on drunk driving in its 35-year history. While we have a lot to be grateful for — saving more than 320,000 lives — we’re not satisfied with the progress. When 28 people die on our roads to drunk driving accidents every day, and we share the road with 300,000 drunk drivers every day, that proves the problem is not solved. One life lost or injured to a 100% preventable crime is one too many.
With so many options available today at our fingertips, there’s no excuse for anyone to drink and drive.