The advent of app-based ridesharing services has transformed the vehicle for hire market in the U.S. Uber and Lyft have been hailed as an easy, affordable, and more efficient way for people to get from Point A to B compared to using a taxi or limousine service. They are also hugely popular: according to the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission, in 2017 Uber and Lyft generated 65% more rides than taxis did in the city.
While these car-sharing companies have been decried in some quarters for allegedly encroaching on the livelihood of taxi and limo drivers, organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have praised them for having a positive impact on reducing the number of drunk driving accidents across the country.
What Do the Statistics Say?
By and large, research appears to support the argument that Uber and Lyft have reduced the number of DUI-related arrests and accidents in places where ridesharing services are available.
- In 2015, Uber and MADD worked together to produce a report titled More Options. Shifting Mindsets. Driving Better Choices. It found that in California, which is Uber’s home state, drunk-driving accidents fell by 6.5% since 2012 in areas that the rideshare service covered.
- In July 2018, the Miami Herald reported the number of DUI arrests made in 2017 by the two largest police departments in Miami-Dade were down 65% from four years earlier. The City of Miami Police Department reported a 31% decrease over the same period.
- In 2017, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that when ridesharing was available in Portland, Oregon, and San Antonio, Texas, DUIs dropped by nearly 60%.
Not everyone concurs with the claim that ridesharing has reduced the number of intoxicated drivers on the road. In 2016, the American Journal of Epidemiology published a research review that failed to find a substantial correlation between fewer DUI crashes and the availability of car-sharing services like Uber. However, the number of studies that validate the role of ridesharing in making roads safer surpass those that suggest the opposite.
Ridesharing in Maine
Uber first appeared in Maine in October 2014, when the service was set up in Portland. On March 23, 2016, it expanded to four more cities: Lewiston, Auburn, Bangor, and Orono. Lyft appeared in Portland and several other communities in southern Maine in 2016.
Is there any evidence that ridesharing has had a positive impact on drunk driving arrests and accidents in this state? Although there do not appear to be any Maine-specific studies correlating the two, below are some statistics that may provide some insight:
- According to records held by the Department of the Secretary of State, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, in the year ending December 31, 2013, there were 4,115 OUI convictions in Maine. The following year (2014, which was when Uber appeared in Portland), the total was 3,695. In 2015 and 2016 the totals were 3787 and 3990. In 2017, the last year for which OUI conviction records have been analyzed there were 4021 convictions.
- The Maine Highway Safety Facts 2016 put out by the State of Maine indicated that between 2006 and 2010, there was an average of 1,566 alcohol-related crashes per year, 55 of which were fatal. Between 2011 and 2015, these averages dropped to 1,197 and 37.6 respectively. Bear in mind that Uber began operating in Maine in 2014, and only in specific areas, so its effect on these numbers may not be significant.
While there is no conclusive evidence of car-sharing companies having a diminishing effect on drunk driving accidents, arrests, and/or convictions in Maine, it’s hard to ignore the influence entirely. One man told a California news station that if he planned to party on a weekend, he would sooner use an Uber or a Lyft than his own vehicle, saying “I’d rather pay $20 (for a rideshare) than $10,000 dollars for a DUI.”
What’s the Bottom Line?
Drunk driving continues to be an issue in Maine because it turns roads and highways into danger zones and increases the risk of a fatal crash that can change a family forever. If you have been injured or lost someone you love because a negligent party drove under the influence of alcohol, contact Fales & Fales, P.A. Our car accident team understands how devastating such an unnecessary loss can be, and will fight for the damages you need to recover financially and emotionally.