Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) estimates that every day in the United States, about 300,000 people drive while intoxicated. Alcohol-related traffic accidents kill about 10,000 people in this country every year, and thousands more are seriously injured by impaired drivers. In Florida, more than 55,000 DUI arrests were made in 2011, and in 2012, Florida traffic fatalities linked to intoxicated driving numbered 697. Are rideshare services like Lyft and Uber making the streets safer in Florida? What about other states?

A research report recently produced by Uber indicates that the new app-based ride services are helping to reduce drunk driving in California. That’s surprising when you consider the number of taxis, limousines, buses, and other ride-for-hire services that have been available for decades in that state’s major markets. Nevertheless, it seems that many consumers find ridesharing convenient and prefer ridesharing services to taxi services.

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The new study from Uber, More Options. Shifting Mindsets. Driving Better Choices, determined that ride sharing is impacting traffic safety across the United States by providing ride-seeking consumers with fresh new transportation alternatives when their plans include having several drinks. In Miami, for example, Uber ridership peaks during the same hours that DUI arrests had peaked in prior years.

WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE THAT UBER IS MAKING STREETS SAFER?

The report also provides strong statistical evidence for Uber’s positive effect on traffic safety in Chicago, Pittsburgh, and a number of other major markets. Uber’s first twelve months in the Tampa market, for example, made a significant impact. In the first six months of 2014, Tampa police made 1,124 DUI arrests. In the first six months of 2015, they made only 776 DUI arrests. Tampa Police Department spokesperson Steve Hegarty told WTSP News that Uber has had a positive impact on roadway safety in Tampa, making it easier than ever for bar patrons to find a safe ride home.

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Uber’s researchers also surveyed consumer opinions and attitudes regarding the new ridesharing companies. Of those who responded to the survey, 78 percent replied that their friends are less likely to drive while intoxicated now that Uber and Lyft are available. An astonishing number of survey respondents – 93 percent – said that they would suggest Uber to friends who are drunk and need transportation.

Sure, Uber is producing reports that make their service look good. Nevertheless, some of their statistics have independent confirmation from a team of researchers at Temple University. Those researchers evaluated California DUI figures from 2009 through 2014. Almost as soon as Uber enters a market, the Temple researchers found, alcohol-related traffic deaths dip in that market by approximately two percent. That number sounds minuscule, but if Uber operated nationally, the Temple research team concluded that five hundred fewer traffic deaths would happen each year in the U.S.

WHY ARE UBER AND LYFT BOOMING?

Why are Uber and Lyft booming when taxicab services have operated in every major U.S. city for decades? Uber’s research in Austin – one city where statistics regarding the taxi industry are published – tells us that the number of taxis available in Austin actually declines at peak hours. That smaller number of taxis gives an advantage to a tiny group of cab drivers with seniority, but it leaves too many consumers stranded and thus more likely to make an unwise decision about driving after drinking. Taxicab companies have similar policies in almost every big city, although precise statistics are difficult to find.

The rideshare industry – led by Uber and Lyft – is reducing more than intoxicated driving. It’s actually working to save lives by reducing all types of distracted driving. According to Orlando personal injury attorney Robert Horst, “Rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber are keeping the streets safe in Florida for one reason. When you are riding in that car as a passenger, you are not texting, emailing, talking on the phone, or otherwise distracted while driving yourself. The next time you are going to take a car ride, and you know you have to be on email, text, Facebook, or whatever, do everyone a favor – including yourself – and call Lyft or Uber.”

The rideshare industry’s role in reducing distracted driving must be considered as well as the decline in intoxicated driving. Adjusting a music device, tending to pets or children, grooming, and eating can distract a motorist just long enough to cause a collision. Cell phones are probably the most dangerous distraction. According to the Wall Street Journal, cell phones now are a factor in more than a quarter of all traffic accidents nationwide.

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Driving involves dozens of critical, split-second decisions, so a driver really must concentrate exclusively on driving at every moment behind the wheel. It’s imperative to avoid distractions. However, many people are now finding that riding with Uber or Lyft provides them with ideal opportunities to make and return phone calls, texts, and emails, or simply to catch up with friends on Facebook.

HOW CAN MORE INJURIES AND DEATHS BE AVOIDED?

Orlando personal injury attorney Robert Horst believes that the ridesharing services have the potential to reduce substantially the overall number of injuries and fatalities on Florida’s streets and highways – if consumers will take advantage of the app-based services. Attorney Horst says, “Although I have no affiliation, I see the tragedies that occur every day as a result of texting and driving and distracted driving in general. So next time you know you have to be on the phone, do everyone a favor. Especially do yourself a favor and call Lyft or Uber, and do what you have to do while you’re not distracted.”

Whether injuries are caused by distracted drivers or by intoxicated drivers, in far too many cases, accident victims sustain traumatic brain injuries, serious spinal cord injuries, and other permanent and/or disabling injuries. These kinds of catastrophic injuries may require substantial, long-term compensation to cover treatment and rehabilitation. With fewer accidents, injuries, and fatalities due to Uber and Lyft, police departments and the courts – and thus the taxpayers – benefit directly through reduced spending.

When you’re injured by a negligent driver – in Florida or in any other state – a good personal injury or wrongful death lawyer may be able to help you win the compensation you need and the justice you deserve. While we can’t do much about other drivers being distracted, we can all take advantage of good opportunities to avoid our own distracted or intoxicated driving – opportunities that companies like Lyft and Uber are providing.

Video Transcript:

Rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber are keeping the streets safe in Florida for one reason. When you’re driving in that car as a passenger, you are not texting, emailing, talking on the phone, or otherwise distracted while driving yourself. Next time you’re going to take a car ride and you know you have to be on email, text, Facebook, whatever, do everyone a favor, including yourself, and call Lyft or Uber.

Although I have no affiliation, I see the tragedies that occur every day as a result of texting and driving, and distracted driving in general. So next time you know you have to be on the phone, do everyone a favor. Especially do yourself a favor and call Lyft or Uber, and do what you have to do while you’re not distracted. For more information, speak to a wrongful death attorney today.