Is Uber Making us Drunk and Dangerous?

by on 10 June, 2016

By Celeste Arenas

‘Don’t drink and drive” is the maxim of a night with alcohol. It shows maturity and a sense of civic duty; a commitment not to die on the road or get arrested. Yet the saying is slowly but surely fading into obscurity with every new service that drives for you.

Some say services like Uber and Lyft are reducing the reasons to stay sober on a night out because there is no longer a need for a designated driver.  They equate this with a growing concern for public safety because of an apparent rise in binge drinking.

Let’s address these concerns one by one.

  1.   Is Uber making us dangerous?

Almost all the research on road safety has concluded that ride sharing has significantly lowered the rates of drinking while drunk, and by extension, the number of fatal crashes and arrests have been reduced by a whopping 16.6 % Without government oversight or regulation, services like Uber and Lyft have delivered unprecedented public safety benefits that are only going to continue the ‘larger and longer the service is available in any given area.’

The very article that makes a case against ride sharing says ‘people rely on Uber and Lyft to get them home safely‘and that ‘Uber drivers acknowledge they are commonly called upon to act as sober drivers.‘ This shows the myriad of ways ride sharing has been pivotal in delivering the peace of mind that driving under the influence, or depending on the taxi industry could not.

2. Is Uber making us more drunk?

It is true that ride sharing is allowing us to delegate the responsibility to drive, therefore reducing the legal requirement for one person in a group to remain sober on a given night out. Can it be said however, that ride sharing is responsible for a rise in binge drinking?

Not only is this a poor accusation that confuses correlation with causation, but it is based on highly irrelevant data. The article used to make a case against Uber uses a study that focuses on ‘drinking patterns from 2005 onwards,’ before ride sharing services existed. It concludes a rise in binge drinking is ‘largely due to an increase in female consumption‘, where it remains unchanged for men. How then, can a service offered to both men and women be responsible for what is largely, a female phenomenon? Unless better evidence than this can be found, Uber is not in fact, responsible for creating a drunk generation.

The reduced need for a designated driver on a night out is due to the rise in designated drivers available on the market. Rather than causing concern,  ride sharing saves lives by providing an unprecedented level of safety on our roads. Rather than making us more dangerous and drunk, ride sharing gives us the option to drink as much as we wish without causing harm to any other person.

That in itself is cause for celebration, and probably a drink.




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