Can Uber Reduce DUIs?

uber  Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last several years, you’ve by now, undoubtedly heard a word that’s turning up almost everywhere: Uber. You know, the 50 billion dollar ride-hailing behemoth that’s become as recognizable for its swirling controversy, as it is for its legendary business model.

This San Francisco-based disruptor infamously slithers into new markets, suffocates the competition, and wages war against the opposition. Uber has been relentless in overcoming the cab industry’s frustrations, combating violent taxi protests, even backing down New York City’s own mayor. They are constantly blasted for not abiding by city rules, for avoiding licensing fees, and flat-out violating insurance laws.

Yet, despite the uproar, dozens of cities who once dubbed it “illegal”, now have laws magically codifying its very business model. If you ask me (which no one is), the taxi industry is fighting the wrong battle. Why attack Uber, when the battle is clearly with the cities who are responsible for ensuring companies don’t exploit the quote-un-quote “loopholes” in their policy, and who set the regulations on the taxi industry in the first place?

Look, I’m not writing to editorially crucify Uber, or to pledge my allegiance to the cab industry. I believe both parties bring a tremendous argument to the table, and from the looks of it, this dispute won’t be resolved anytime in the immediate future. We can only hope that this thing gets figured out in a peaceful, diplomatic fashion.

Now, let’s shift the focus of this topic of confrontation and controversy, and talk about an area of this ridesharing phenomenon, that sadly, doesn’t command our attention like that of a violent protest.

Earlier this year, MADD, along with Uber, conducted a survey to determine if ridesharing is helping to reduce drinking and driving. The initial findings are extremely promising. More so than anything, the study certainly demonstrates that Uber is not just a convenient transportation option, but it may actually be serving as a form of ammunition in the fight to reduce drunk-driving crashes. In California, drunk-driving crashes fell 6.5% among drivers under 30, following the launch of UberX in the state. To put that in a clearer perspective, that’s around 1800 crashes avoided since July 2012. Even more encouraging is that four out of five respondents said friends are less likely to drive home (after drinking) since ridesharing services began operating in their city.

So, what does it all mean? I think in all fairness, the answer is, it’s still too early to tell. It may only be one study, but I think the findings prove to be a positive indicator that having reliably accessible options at people’s fingertips are making it more difficult to justify drinking and driving.

I can’t help but wonder, if empowered with an option like Uber, that a few simple swipes of my finger could’ve been the catalyst that changed the fate of my life, and more importantly, the life that I took while driving drunk. I caused unbelievable devastation in the lives of so many, simply by making a decision that ridesharing technology is now making it incredibly difficult to justify.

For me, this whole ordeal is not about who’s right and who’s wrong. The media has done a terrific job at providing us with round-by-round coverage of Uber vs. the taxi companies. But, I believe there is something truly greater at stake. Like it or not, ridesharing isn’t going anywhere, and eventually this battle for right of passage will come to an end. It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you’re on, the fact remains: ridesharing is a disruptor, but at the same time, this very disruption is innovating DUI prevention.

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Chad Mattson
Currently serving a 15 year prison sentence for DUI manslaughter, Chad Mattson has made it his life's mission to ensure that others do not make the same mistake he did, which resulted in the death of another person.

Visit for more about Chad and the 'I Chose' movement to eliminate impaired driving.

One Response

  1. Juanita
    Juanita March 16, 2016 at 7:51 pm |

    That is an interesting turn of events for Uber. Ever since Uber launched their ride share, there has been one controversy after another about the way they operate and of course the fact that they seem to flout all the rules in the book. But all of that does not matter. Bringing down the number of DUI incidents overrides everything that they do wrong. In fact I would go so far as to say they are providing a necessary service, something that the regular taxi service has failed to do so far. DUI Charges


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