Uber is claiming at least part of the credit for a 32% fall in drunk driving in Atlanta over a 3.5-year period, while also announcing that it is using its app to monitor driving standards and notify drivers when they are at risk of negative feedback.

The somewhat controversial claim charts the number of DUI arrests in the city against the number of Uber pickups, appearing to show that the greater the number of Uber rides, the lower the number of DUI offenses.

Several studies have found that Uber’s availability in a city has an impact on the rate of drunk driving incidents, including one we released in partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). MADD, who introduced the phrase “designated driver” to the American lexicon, has chosen Uber as its official designated driving app. Today, we are publishing additional data on Uber’s impact on drunk driving.

We’d note that correlation is not causation, and I suspect the Atlanta Police Department might have something to say about their own efforts to deter drunk driving, but the company says that its own riders back the idea.

  • 90% of riders say that Uber helps reduce drinking and driving
  • 80% of riders say that Uber has helped them personally avoid drinking and driving
  • Uber is riders’ top choice for trips when they have “had too much alcohol to drive”—compared to other options such as public transportation, taxi, other ridesharing services and walking

Uber also announced that it has for some time been trialling automated data collection to assess the safety and comfort Uber drivers are providing to riders, and is now expanding the pilot scheme to 11 U.S. cities. The app used by drivers uses the phone’s gyrometer, accelerometer and GPS to look for harsh braking, hard acceleration, speeding, too much driving without a break and holding the phone in their hands while driving.

The app displays warnings on the phone, and also emails daily reports to drivers on their safety and comfort stats. Uber says that at present the monitoring is purely advisory, but it’s not hard to see that Uber could in future use the data to enforce driving standards.

For riders, the company announced a few days ago that it is trialling fixed fares.


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