Researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Southern California examined whether road traffic deaths related to drunk driving declined in counties where Uber had started operating. They found that the deployment of Uber in a given metropolitan county had no effect on the number of subsequent traffic fatalities. The paper, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, says the results mean we should be sceptical of the broad claims already made about the effects of rideshare services in reducing traffic deaths.
Co-author Dr David Kirk, Associate Professor of Sociology and Fellow of Nuffield College at the University of Oxford, says: 'If drunk drivers were rational, then in theory a service offering to make alternative forms of transport easier should bring down rates of drunk driving and road traffic deaths. However, the average inebriated individual contemplating driving may not be sufficiently rational to substitute drinking and driving for a presumably safer Uber ride. Another reason may be that many drunk drivers are not willing to pay for an Uber ride or taxi given the likelihood of getting arrested for drinking and driving is actually quite low in the US.'