Rideshare and DUI observations

Rideshare and DUI observations

After spending quite a few late nights driving for Lyft in the notorious party scenes of L.A and Orange County Beach cities, the thought kept crossing my mind:

“It would be interesting to see if the introduction of ride-sharing services lowered the DUI statistics?”

In other words do we find more people in the following situations:
“I’ve had a few drinks, but I need to get to the bars to meet my friends – should I risk driving? It’s not that far…Oh wait, I have these credits for Lyft, I’ll just request a ride”
“..hick!… Man, the economy is tight, I barely have money for alcohol, but you know you gotta have fun…hick!…I gotta get back home, Taxis are so darn expensive, I’ll just drive thru the backstreets home..hick!…what time is it? (pulls up phone)..”Uber?. I forgot about that new app..hick!..it’s cheap and easy…click!..”driver will arrive in 8 minutes”.
“Yeaaaaahhh, what a party!! Let’s hit the clubs!! How many people are going!? 4? Perfect! (I’ll drive since we are students and can’t afford the taxis, and we don’t want to wait foreeeeever!) Bro, lets get a Lyft! It’s so cooool! (We are after all smartphone generation and love all these apps and life hacks!) Let’s split the fare among us bro, ok?
“My life is miserable..64 years old and alone..I hate drinking like this at the bars so late..I need to get home. My car is parked outside, I’ll just get myself home….Shoot, I can’t risk another DUI..what about my daughter..wait, what was that thing she told me about? Uber? She did show me how to use it..I’ll try it out. I need to get to bed..”
I’ve had a few of these as my passengers you see.
There is John. He was very happy for Lyft because he had lost his license for a while after a few drinks and getting pulled over. He even had to serve some jail time. He told me that at the mandatory meetings he had to attend for DUI offenders, there were many people in the same boat!  Thankful for the emergence of ridesharing companies that could not only help them get to the DUI meetings, but keep them from having to attend them in the future.
“Rideshare will help People like me, the demographics that are not drunkards, but can have a tendency to drink and drive”
Economics 21’s Jared Meyer reports:
A new report issued by Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving shows that booming ridesharing services are not just convenient and affordable—they are lifesavers. Opponents of ridesharing will now have a more difficult time claiming that it puts the public at risk.
Ridesharing saves lives because people use it as a designated driver (drivers who partner with the companies are held to strict zero-tolerance alcohol policies) instead of trying to drive themselves home after they have had too much to drink. As the report states, “when people have more options, they make better, safer choices.” In a survey of 807 individuals conducted by Benenson Strategy Group, 88 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “Uber has made it easier for me to avoid driving home when I’ve had too much to drink,” and 78 percent said Uber has made it less likely that their friends drive after drinking.
The survey results are supported by other data. Uber’s entry into Seattle was associated with a 10 percent decrease in drunk driving arrests. Controlling for outside factors, after uberX launched in cities across California, monthly alcohol-related crashes decreased by 6.5 percent among drivers under 30 (59 fewer crashes per month). This decline was not observed in California markets without uberX. When drunk driving decreases, it benefits everyone who shares the road.


However DUI statistics can be complex to calculate as there are many factors involved.
– LAPD Lt. Michelle Loomis told LAist that there was a slight decrease in DUI crashes from 2013 to 2014, and 2012 had an even larger decrease. However, she said “there’s no way we can measure how we can relate that to DUI arrests.” Loomis said that a lot of things could have played into the drop in numbers like “more education” about DUIs and a change in “the way the public has viewed DUI driving.”
In other words—as any statistician or data nerd worth their salt would tell you—correlation isn’t causation. But that hasn’t stopped Uber from trumpeting the correlation or other analysts from digging into the stats—with plenty of caveats.


headlampFor many people the danger of drinking and driving does not hit them until it’s too late. Some come out relatively unharmed, but other are unfortunately not so fortunate. 
I’ve had 3 passengers who lost their licence after being in car wrecks where they drove under the influence, and as a result had their license removed. Thankfully the only thing damaged in their case was their car and their pride.


MADD and Uber worked together to produce the report: “More Options. Shifting Mindsets. Driving Better Choices”. Among the findings: In California, drunk-driving crashes fell 6.5% among drivers under 30 in the markets where Uber operates following the launch of uberX in the state. That represents potentially 60 fewer drunk driving crashes each month — a total of 1,800 crashes avoided — since July 2012. California is Uber’s home state and longest-running market and demonstrates for a possible similar reduction in other Uber markets.
The report also includes a survey of attitudes about ridesharing services and their role in combating drunk driving. Nearly 4 in 5 (78%) respondents said friends are less likely to drive home after drinking since ridesharing services like Uber started operating in their city. A remarkable 93% of people would recommend Uber as a safer way home to a friend who had been drinking.


Just a few weeks ago I picked up a guy and two girls who brought a bouquet cloud of marijuana with them as they sat in the car. Just a mile down the road we came upon a major DUI checkpoint on the street adjacent to ours. That’s when the guy remarked:

“Holy S***! I’m sure glad we took a Lyft tonight and didn’t drive!”

I also picked up 4 clearly intoxicated guys in San Pedro who had been trying to get a ride from a party for almost one hour and was just about to drive their vehicle to the clubs as they gave up hope of getting anywhere.

So I’m sure there are still a percentage of people driving cars who would still do it after drinking if the probability of getting caught was gone. So in other words, it’s not the fact that it is very irresponsible and dangerous to drive under the influence thats keeping them from going out on the road, it is the idea of getting caught and paying for it in cash and jail time etc”
Whatever the reasons that make people sit behind the wheel when they can’t see straight, it seems very likely that as more and more “designated drivers on command” appear on the roads, the likelihood of intoxicated people driving, decreases.  Hopefully some reliable statistics will emerge soon to prove that point!
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