Ride-sharing services such as Uber have radically reshaped transportation options in Chattanooga and other cities. Typically cheaper than a city taxi and very convenient, web-based apps for ride hailing have been a game-changer for many millennials – and indeed for other generations as well.
But does Uber really reduce DUI rates, as their website claims?
Some scholars say no
One study on Uber and traffic fatalities reported that some areas actually experienced more, not fewer, traffic accidents when Uber was present. The study included multiple large metropolitan cities during 2005-2014 and analyzed a variety of variables such as surge pricing and holiday weekends.
In the end, the study found no significant association between the use of Uber services and the number of fatalities in traffic accidents related to drunk driving.
Other analysts argue that even widespread use of Uber would not have a noticeably substantial effect on DUI arrest rates. This is because the number of Uber drivers is so much smaller than the large number of potentially impaired drivers behind the wheel.
How large are those impaired driving numbers?
Consider this. Police arrested 1.1 million drivers for DUIs in 2015 alone according to the Center for Disease Control. It may therefore be that even with Uber on the scene, DUI rates do not go down that much, if at all.
The courts and Uber
As we have discussed, the evidence doesn’t support any significant correlation between Uber and drunk driving offenses. It is possible, however, that ride-sharing apps could be used in sentencing someone convicted of DUI.
In a recent case in Ohio, for example, a judge ordered a defendant to download both Lyft and Uber following a DUI conviction.