Ridesharing is more popular than ever thanks to companies like Uber and Lyft. One of the reasons why people support ridesharing is the idea that it could reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road. After all, with ridesharing literally at your fingertips, why would you ever need to worry about finding a ride home?
But has ridesharing really helped the drunk driving problem? Research in some states suggests that driving under the influence (DUI) is still a very real, and even growing, problem. In Washington state, research shows that DUIs have increased 27.9% since 2009. The state also has a DUI arrest rate higher than the national average.
In 2016, researchers concluded that there was not a significant decrease in DUI-related auto accidents with the availability of Uber. Evidence is very limited in terms of how rideshare apps and public transportation impact DUI arrest and accident rates.
Are Rideshare Apps Contributing to the Problem?
There is another school of thought that suggests rideshare apps may actually contribute to the DUI problem. With the convenience of rideshare apps comes the temptation to indulge. Why not have another round or two if you are guaranteed a ride home? This line of thinking could contribute to reckless behavior. Researchers have found that binge drinking and alcohol consumption has increased significantly in cities where ridesharing services have recently become available.
Also, researchers have found that the most common reason why people use Uber is because they plan to drink. While this research is compelling, it does not offer much help in determining the real impact of rideshare apps on DUI rates.
How to Reduce DUI Rates
There is a common belief that decreasing access to alcoholic beverages and increasing penalties for DUI offenses is the best option for reducing DUI-related accident rates. However, this is a complicated matter and researchers, overall, seem to have a lack of insight into how ridesharing services have impacted any accident rates.