The ride sharing service Uber alleges that its services reduce drunk driving, but the effects of Uber on overall rates of car crashes and injuries are unclear. A new study from researchers at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine reports that these services have lowered drunk driving crashes in some cities, but the data varies widely based on the specific city studied, due to the different ways local residents use roadways. For example, the study found that crashes involving alcohol decreased as Uber resumed services in Portland and San Antonio, but not Reno. “This research suggests the technology is likely to affect crashes, particularly alcohol-involved crashes, differently from city to city,” said Christopher Morrison, a postdoctoral fellow in biostatistics, epidemiology and informatics. Researchers found no evidence that Uber lowered the number of injuries from car accidents or serious crashes.
The Penn team studied State Department of Transportation data from all cities in which Uber launched, ceased and later resumed operations. Researchers analyzed the total number of crashes per week as well as rates of alcohol-involved crashes in these cities. The study was funded by a grant from the National Center for Injury Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Authors of the paper include Douglas J. Wiebe, Christopher Morrison, Sara F. Jacoby, Beidi Dong and M. Kit Delgado.