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Do we know how many drunk driving accidents Uber has prevented?

Uber widely touts the impact of its rideshare company on the number of drunk driving-related accidents and DUIs. Indeed, it's only logical that the relatively easy availability of Ubers in many cities has kept people getting behind the wheel when they shouldn't and therefore prevented accidents.

However, the data is still limited, and the actual impact may not be anywhere near what the company would like the public to believe. Some of that limited data comes from Uber itself. One study was co-authored by Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

A study conducted by Temple University had some interesting results. The research, which looked at data in California from 2009 to 2014, showed a reduction in drunk driving fatalities of somewhere between 3.6 and 5.6 percent. However, those decreased numbers occurred only on weekdays. There was no change on the weekends, when one would expect more people to be drinking.

Whether that has anything to do with Uber's "surge pricing" can't be known. However, Uber does usually raise its rates, much to the chagrin of passengers, at its busiest times, such as weekends, rush hours and holidays. The company says these higher rates help it get more Uber drivers out on the roads who would normally stay home.

One Uber investor, billionaire and "Shark Tank" guest Chris Sacca, has been vocal in his enthusiasm for Uber's impact on drunk driving crashes. He recently told a conference that Uber "has dramatically reduced drunk driving accidents in every city" where it operates. He acknowledges that "more studies are needed and welcome." He says, however, "I am confident the findings will continue to highlight the lives literally saved by Uber."

Of course, even if Uber's impact on drunk driving injuries and fatalities isn't as impressive as the company and its supporters claim, any lives saved and crashes prevented are a plus. For those who are hesitant to pay the higher surge pricing rates on the weekends and holidays, it's important to remember that the highest Uber surge rate is going to cost a lot less than a DUI.

Those of us who live here in the Reno area know all too well that people are drinking in casinos at all hours of the day and night. If you're involved in a crash with a drunk driver, that driver can be held accountable criminally as well as civilly for his or her actions.

Source: Inc., "Uber and Drunk Driving: What the Evidence Really Shows," Tess Townsend, accessed May 30, 2016

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