Ride Sharing Apps Fail to Lower Drunk Driving Rates in Chicago, Nation

Thanks to awareness campaigns like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, community involvement, and law enforcement crackdowns the number of drunk driving deaths in America has been cut in half since the 80s. However, drunk driving remains a serious problem in Illinois and across the country.

It is estimated there are over 121 million drunk driving incidents yearly, and in 2014 alcohol related crashes in Illinois saw a 9.2% increase from the previous four year average. So although there has been significant improvement in deterring drunk driving there is much work to be done.

Many hoped that ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber would help to decrease high incident numbers, but recent studies report that is not the case. A study at University of Southern California and Oxford University examined drunk driving data before and after ride sharing apps entered the market and found no effect on drinking related or holiday and weekend related fatalities.

Researchers explain because of the high demand for drivers the companies have been unable to help combat the drunk driving epidemic. For example, at peak drinking and driving times, like holiday weekends or between 2:00-5:00am when bars close, there are less drivers on the road. This leads to increased wait times and surge pricing, which can turn what should be a $5 ride into a $15 charge.

Researchers theorize that ride-sharing apps have not yet persuaded those inclined to drink and drive. They believe that those taking advantage of the new technology were the individuals who would have called cabs before drinking and driving in past years. Those who were already inclined to drink and drive are most likely still making the illegal choice, instead of paying a large fair or waiting 15 minutes. Even though this seems like a small inconvenience when looking at the bigger picture of one’s own safety and the safety of others, those under the influence of alcohol tend to be irrational and stubborn.

For Uber and Lyft to truly help lower drunk driving statistics, their driving force must continue to grow at a rapid rate seeing as there are over 300,000 drunk driving incidents daily and only 450,000 registered drivers for Uber. Those behind the study hope their findings will encourage ride-sharing apps to continue growing their companies and possibly make some changes to help the countrywide goal to eliminate drunk driving accidents.

In the interim, victims of drunk driving collisions in Illinois continue to be protected by state and often local laws that guarantee their rights to seek relief if they are harmed in a crash. And every motorist can do her part by refraining from drinking and driving as this dangerous activity can be completed prevented by responsible conduct.

Prior Blog Entry:

The 100 Deadliest Days of Summer: Staying Safe During Summer Travel, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published July 28, 2016.


Drunk Driving Statistics, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Is Uber reducing drunk driving? New study says no., by Fredrick Knukle, The Washington Post, published July 27, 2016.

Naperville Among Cities With Most DUI Arrests in State: Survey, by Amie Schaenzer, Naperville Patch, published June 29, 2016.

Illinois Crash Data Trends 2010-2014, Illinois Department of Transportation.

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