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Uber and Metropolitan Traffic Fatalities in the United States

July 2016

Noli Brazil, David S. Kirk


Since its introduction the ride-sharing application known as “Uber” has grown immensely. Popular among urban dwellers, Uber provides an easy and relatively cheap way for people to get around town. With Uber’s growth the authors of this article set out to study whether or not Uber has reduced the nearly 121 million cases of drunk driving in the United States. Using the one hundred most populated counties the authors compared the availability of Uber with the total, drunk driving related, weekend, and holiday traffic deaths. They used negative binomial and Poisson regression models to measure the outcome. Ultimately they found that the availability of Uber services did not correlate with a decrease in traffic fatalities due to drunk driving.

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Policy Implications

Although Uber provides a more convenient way of catching a ride than the traditional taxi,\ it does not correlate with fewer cases of drunk driving. Uber has taken a large portion of market share from taxi companies and has only increased the amount of ride sharing and taxis available by a small margin. Rolling out more ride sharing opportunities might lower the costs but, as this study shows, might not have a large impact on reducing the cases of drunk driving. Alternative policies will have to be put in place to combat drunk driving.

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