"Give Me Another Drink. I’m not Driving."

By David Amodeo

Since ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft were launched about seven years ago, they continue to have a greater influence on our mobility and culture. Thousands of people have become ride-share drivers, millions of ride-share trips occur daily and billions of dollars are spent on these services each year. Yet ride-sharing has only scratched the surface.

The business premise behind ride-sharing—and of all sharing-economy business activities—is a relatively simple one: The efficient use of shared-resources to reduce overall consumer costs, while providing superior services and shorter wait times.

In addition to these objectives, one unforeseen (and pleasant) outcome of the increase in ride-sharing services has been the positive effect that ride-sharing has had on consumers’ decisions about driving when they have been consuming alcohol. Indeed, according to a recent consumer survey conducted by J.D. Power, among people who use ride-sharing services, the most frequently cited reason for using ride-sharing services is when a person knows that they will be drinking alcohol.

Single Most Important Reason to Use a Ride-Sharing Service like Uber or Lyft

This finding supports a study by Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)—that says:

  • 88% of respondents over the age of 21 agree with the statement that “Uber has made it easier for me to avoid driving home when I’ve had too much to drink.”
  • 78% of people say that since Uber launched in their city, their friends are less likely to drive after drinking.
  • And after hearing about Uber’s impact on drunk driving already, 93% of people would recommend a friend take Uber instead of driving if the friend had been drinking.

According to the Uber/MADD report, drunk-driving crashes in California (among drivers under 30 years old and in markets where Uber operates) have declined by an average of 60 per month and have had a substantial positive effect on the reduction of property damage and personal injury. In addition, examining major metropolitan areas around the country, requests for Uber rides tend to peak between midnight and 2 a.m., around the time when most bars are closing and when most drunk driving crashes occur.

Clearly, ride-sharing has already made a positive effect on making roads safer from drivers who have been drinking alcohol. Even better, it appears there is room for even greater improvements in safety as ride-sharing becomes available in more markets and as consumers gain greater awareness of its benefits. According to our research, only about 25% of consumers say they have ever used a ride-sharing service, a number that is sure to grow.

Having a drink with friends has been a time-honored tradition in many cultures for millennia. In America, we can practically set our calendars around peak drinking occasions (New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.). Now, with the advent of ridesharing services, these holidays can continued to be enjoyed by everyone, with the added reassurance that drivers who imbibe are now less likely to drive afterward.

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David Amodeo is senior manager for automotive quality at J.D. Power; he keeps his cell phone charged for when he drinks and needs to summon a ride share.

The information contained herein has been obtained by J.D. Power from sources believed to be reliable. However, because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by our sources, J.D. Power does not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from use of such information. 

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