GC Study Shows Drop in Drunk-Driving Crashes After App Car Services Launched

A working paper by doctoral student Jessica Peck (Economics) suggests that the arrival in New York City of digital app-based car services like Uber led to a significant decrease in drunk-driving related car accidents.
Uber introduced its app to New York in 2011, making it the first of such services to appear in the city. Accidents involving drunk drivers fell an average of 25 to 35 percent in New York City during the next two years in every borough except Staten Island, where the service is far less available.
“It’s clear that app-based car service is a major disruptive technology, and because of this municipalities all around the world are grappling with its effect on everything from unions and drivers’ wages to traffic congestion, air quality, and car sales,” said Peck. “I wanted to take a look at what impact it may be having on drunk driving accidents because we can save lives and reduce the overall healthcare cost associated with these often tragic events if municipalities can reduce their occurrence.”
To isolate the effect of app-based car service on drunk driving incidents in New York City, Peck analyzed data collected in three time periods: January 2007 (four years prior to Uber’s arrival), May 2011 (when Uber first entered the market), and July 2013 (when outer borough green cabs and other car service competitors arrived to the marketplace). This allowed Peck to factor out the potential effects of other new forms of transportation on drunk driving-related accidents.
“This is an excellent study that documents an important upside to increased access to transportation,” said Professor David A. Jaeger (Economics). “Policy makers should take notice of the potential positive public health consequences of increasing access to transit.”

Submitted on: MAR 30, 2017

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