Study: Uber could help reduce drunk-driving accidents | News

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Study: Uber could help reduce drunk-driving accidents

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A new study released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving shows that ride-sharing apps, such as Uber and Lyft, could reduce the number of drunk driving accidents.

Uber arrived in Portland in October of 2014, and is also available in Bangor and towns nearby.

The report found ridesharing is having a significant impact across America’s cities, providing people with smarter alternatives to getting behind the wheel if their plans include alcohol.

In cities like Pittsburgh, Miami, and Chicago, the study showed that more people chose Uber to get out or get home after a night of drinking.

"It's better than having somebody drive when they want to celebrate too," said Kelsey Bennett, who uses Uber. "All you have to do is press a button on your phone, and it's easy and you get a driver in five minutes."

People in Portland who use Uber said they choose the service because it is typically faster than requesting a taxi, and also removes the hassle of parking and the danger of driving drunk.

The study said 78 percent of people said friends are less likely to drive drunk since the arrival of services like Uber to their city.

Nearly everyone surveyed — 93 percent — said they would recommend their friends take Uber instead of driving if they had been drinking alcohol.

Uber driver Emma Stanley said she has noticed an increased interest in the service.

"If I have a Friday or a Saturday night free, those are the money nights," said Stanley. "You can completely smell that they've been drinking. Number two they're stumbling out of the bars. As many people as you can get off the roads that have been drinking -- that's a good thing. It's just not worth the risk."

Mothers Against Drunk Driving partnered with Uber in 2014, and hopes the service will expand.

"There's no reason now that people, with all the options that are out there, that they should get into a vehicle after they have consumed alcohol," said MADD National President Colleen Sheehy-Church.

The Maine Department of Transportation said in 2015 there were almost 40 fewer driver-impaired crashes compared to 2014. While that does not necessarily mean Uber is the reason behind that decrease, drivers say Uber is a great opportunity to leave the keys at home when they go to the bars."

"I think it's great. I think having access to that and anyway you can reduce accidents from drunk driving is good," said John Manley, who uses Uber.

"There are so many places where people could get hit or you could not be paying attention and somebody gets hurt  and I just don't think it's safe. I'd rather take an Uber," said Bennett.




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