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Is Uber reducing drunk driving?

Uber, the smartphone-based ride service, has faced legal accusations, including a wrongful death lawsuit involving the death of a child pedestrian. Perhaps in an attempt to counteract this bad press, the company says that it is responsible for dropping drunk driving rates in the cities where its drivers operate.

The company collaborated on a survey with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to back up its claims. The survey polled 807 adults in the largest U.S. cities with Uber drivers. The survey suggested that people in those cities were less likely to drink and drive now that getting an Uber cab is now an option.

Some Uber drivers are apparently encountering fewer drunk drivers on the road. In parts of California, drivers for UberX, the company’s low-frills service, report 6.5 percent fewer DUI car crashes involving a driver under age 30 between 2011 and 2013.

This is a rather specific figure to cite, and it is hard to prove a direct connection to the rise of Uber. An executive with the company acknowledged that public anti-drunk driving campaigns may have contributed to any reduction in this dangerous practice.

It is certainly true that getting a lift home, whether from a sober friend or a professional, is a good alternative to driving after you have had too much to drink. Virtually every day, someone in California or elsewhere in the U.S. makes the wrong decision and seriously hurts an innocent person in a car wreck.

Victims are frequently left with painful and disabling injuries. Our legal system provides a way to hold drunk drivers and other negligent motorists accountable for the harm they cause.

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