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No consensus on Uber preventing drunk driving

Across many New York communities, taking an Uber or Lyft is common practice, despite the fact that these services did not exist even ten years ago. While the ride-sharing services claim to have helped reduce drunk driving rates in the communities they serve, studies disagree on whether or not this is accurate.

As the New York Times explains, a 2015 study commissioned by Uber is the most emphatic that the service rates peaked at the same times that drunk driving accidents were most likely to occur, and that introduction of their services led to decreases in drunk driving. An independent study of New York City, excluding Staten Island, had similar findings. When compared to communities without ride-sharing services available, there were approximately 40 fewer crashes each month after the introduction of these apps in 2011. That is a decrease of between 25 to 35 percent of alcohol-related accidents. Other studies have found similar results, although few have conclusively attributed the decrease in drunk driving accidents to ride-sharing services as the Uber study did.

However, Fortune reported that a study of over 100 major metropolitan areas found no effect on the number of traffic deaths. The researchers from the University of Southern California and Oxford University compared traffic fatality data for weekends and holidays from the communities studied both before and after the introduction of the apps. They did not find any association between the availability of ride-sharing services and the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths or fatal accidents as a whole. Researchers believe there are several reasons they did not see a decrease, including the possibility that the people using Uber or Lyft could have previously been hiring taxis for rides home after a night out.

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