Alcohol-Related Motor Vehicle Crash Traumas and Convictions for Driving Impairment Decreased After Rideshare Service Was Launched

drunk driving, alcohol use, car crash, car accident
Even with public policy initiatives to decrease motor vehicle alcohol-related mortality, motor vehicle crashes are still one of the leading causes of death in those younger than 65 with intoxication playing a role in about one-third of incidents. However, in the past 10 years, ridesharing has become a promising alternative to impaired driving.

The introduction of a rideshare service significantly reduced alcohol-associated motor vehicle crashes and impaired driving convictions in the Houston metropolitan area. These findings, from a multicenter cohort study, were published in JAMA Surgery.

Data from the Ben Taub General Hospital and Memorial Hermann Hospital-Texas Medical Center were assessed for alcohol-related motor vehicle traumas from 2007 to 2019. Statistics about impaired driving during the study period were obtained by a Texas Public Information Act. Rideshare data were obtained from Uber after 2014.

During the study duration, there were a total of 23,491 motor vehicle trauma evaluations, of which 6920 were severe. Trauma patients were aged mean 37.9 (standard deviation [SD], 17.8) years and 62.1% were men.

During the study there was a 20.2% increase in motor vehicle crash traumas and a population increase of 26.5%. Compared with 2007, in 2018 traumas decreased by 20.1%.

Stratified by date, the time in which Uber rides were available corresponded with a 23.8% decrease in motor vehicle traumas and the average Injury Severity Score decreased from 15.1 (SD, 11.7) to 14.0 (SD, 11.2; P <.001). The age of trauma patients increased from 37.2 (SD, 14.4) years before to 39.4 (SD, 18.3) years after Uber’s introduction (P <.001). There was a 38.9% decrease in trauma patients aged <30 years.

During the study period, 248,485 individuals were arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Trends of impaired driving convictions remained unchanged prior to Uber (mean, 22.5 per day). After 2014, convictions for impaired driving decreased to an average of 19.0 per day. Stratified by day, convictions decreased by 17.7% on Friday, 14.7% on Saturday, and 1.0% on Sunday. Stratified by location, during the pre-Uber period arrests were most frequent in the city center and during the post-Uber period, they occurred outside the city center.

The establishment of the rideshare service was associated with a 67% decrease in motor vehicle crash traumas (incident rate ratio [IRR], 0.33; 95% CI, 0.17-0.67 per 1000 indexed rides; P =.002) and impaired driving convictions on Friday and Saturday nights (rate ratio [RR], 0.72; 95% CI, 0.70-0.74; P <.001).

This study was limited by sourcing data from only 2 of the trauma centers in the city. These findings may not be generalizable to other regions.

These data indicated the deployment of a rideshare service in a major metropolitan area decreased alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes and impaired driving convictions.


Conner CR, Ray HM, McCormack RM, et al. Association of rideshare use with alcohol-associated motor vehicle crash trauma. JAMA Surg. Published online June 9, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2021.2227