Beware of anyone claiming to be a savior, especially when they make money from it.”Alcohol Justice, USA
Ride sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft have been growing in popularity in the United States. One purported reason is the assumption that these services reduce road traffic fatalities from preventing driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. Using this reason the companies often push for the services to be as unregulated and cheap as possible.
They have even convinced and enlisted Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) as supporters – a high profile organization working to reduce alcohol-related road traffic harms in the USA – leading to MADD supporting California Proposition 22, which would curtail the state’s ability to apply worker protection laws to these companies’ drivers.
Alcohol Justice debunked this myth in their 2017 report “Late Night Threat” in the context of the extension of last call times in 2017. At the time, the authors of the bill argued that there would be no impact on DUI rates because of the easy access to Uber and Lyft.
Since then more research evidence has come to light, showing that:
- Alcohol-related traffic deaths do not fall when Uber or Lyft are introduced to an area, and
- Binge alcohol use and other high-risk alcohol use patterns actually increase along with the introduction of ride-sharing.
When ride sharing comes to town, alcohol harm is actually being fueled, not reduced.
List of research debunking Uber and Lyft as DUI death prevention methods
- A 2019 paper in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, showing that alcohol-related deaths did not change when Uber began service in South Africa.
- A 2020 article in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health comparing government interventions in Chile to the introduction of Uber, and finding that the former decreased alcohol-related deaths while the latter had no effect.
- A white paper looking at alcohol-related fatalities in London, Ontario (coincidentally, the site of a lot of strong research on the effects of last call times on motor vehicle crashes), which found no association between Uber and alcohol-related crashes. In fact, the researchers found that alcohol-related crashes went up after ride-sharing was introduced, though the finding was not statistically significant.
- A 2020 article in PLoS ONE modeling the effects of the introduction of Uber into 100 United States metropolises, finding that not only is Uber not associated with a decrease in alcohol-related traffic deaths, but it is associated with an increase in all-cause traffic deaths.
- Another 2020 paper looking at Uber across multiple U.S. metropolitan areas found that there was no effect on intoxicated driving with the introduction of Uber, but a significant increase in binge alcohol use.
Movendi International has been closely following the development around ride sharing apps and exposing the increasing alcohol harm caused by these apps such as through increased binge alcohol use and increased heavy alcohol use.
Alcohol Justice warns that as these ride sharing companies grow in financial and political power community advocates must confront the myths they propagate.
Science shows that ride sharing apps do not help reduce DUI deaths and that they actually increase binge alcohol use thereby increasing alcohol harm. If these apps continue to propagate these myths in order to avoid regulation they have to be held responsible for their role in fueling rising alcohol harm just as much as the alcohol industry.
The myth that Uber prevents fatal DUI should be buried alongside the myth that ‘light cigarettes prevent cancer’ and ‘a high-sugar diet is fine if you avoid cholesterol’.
The only way to prevent deaths from alcohol is to confront and disempower those who profit from alcohol. And if Uber and Lyft insist on spreading this falsehood, then they should be considered alcohol profiteers as well,” writes Alcohol Justice, as per their website.Alcohol Justice, USA