GOOD

Research Suggests Uber Might Be Making Our Roads Safer

A new report points to some encouraging news when it comes to the popular car service’s effect on DUI-related deaths.

image via (cc) flickr user slemmon

There is a lot that can be said about Uber, the popular car service and mobile app. On one hand, the company has been hailed as the gold standard of sharing-economy startups, providing a much-needed service to cities with transportation systems strained by overuse. On the other, Uber has faced any number of criticisms regarding how it handles users’ private data, its liability policies for its drivers, and the company’s general “disruptive” business model, to name just a few. But now there is new research to indicate that Uber may not simply help travelers from point A to point B, but may, in fact, be helping make the roads safer for us all.


In their paper “Show Me the Way to Go Home: An Empirical Investigation of Ride Sharing and Alcohol Related Motor Vehicle Homicide,” Temple University professors Brad Greenwood and Sunil Wattal investigate the number of alcohol-related vehicular fatalities across California both before, and after, Uber was introduced into various cities across that state. What Greenwood and Wattal found was that when it comes to the standard Uber X offering (and not the premium town-car service, Uber Black) there was, on average, a 3.6-5.6 percent decrease in DUI deaths within the first quarter of the service being introduced. That may not seem, in and of itself, like a huge difference, but extrapolated out nationally, the paper estimates that it would save around five hundred lives annually.

The key, the researchers theorize, is Uber’s combination of availability and, perhaps more importantly, affordability. The paper’s authors explain:

To the extent that rational choice theory (Clarke and Cornish 1985, Cornish and Clarke 2014) suggests that most decisions to engage in illegal activity are a function of the reward, potential penalty, and the probability of being apprehended by law enforcement, it is possible that these homicides are a result of rational choice on the part of consumers. Results indicate that there is a significant effect of the entry of lower priced Uber options, viz. Uber X, indicating that price is the main barrier to reducing the DUI rate in many jurisdictions. Furthermore, results suggest a significantly stronger effect in larger cities. Finally, findings suggest that there is no effect when surge pricing is likely in effect (i.e. during weekends and drinking holidays), thereby underscoring the importance of cost in affecting the number of deaths which occur in alcohol related crashes.

In other words, when safe driving alternatives are unavailable, or overly expensive, drivers are more likely to drive drunk. Conversely, impaired drivers will frequently use Uber rather than take the wheel themselves, as the company’s cars are oftentimes both cheaper and more available than standard taxi cabs. That neither the more expensive Uber Black service, nor occasions when Uber’s surge pricing is in effect, seem to have the same DUI fatality-reducing outcome only serves to strengthen the paper’s conclusion.

Greenwood and Wattal’s work is, ultimately, only one study, with further research needed to fully explore the extent of Uber’s—and similar services’—effect on driving safety. Still, as far as understanding new ways to make the roads safer for us all, this paper offers a promising place to start.

[via gizmodo]

Articles
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health