By Alexander Morrissette

When the City of Austin was engaged in a fierce debate over the Proposition 1 vote, popular ridesharing companies promoted a study which found that their services significantly reduced DUI rates in cities where they operate.  The response from city officials and anti-ridesharing factions was immediate, tearing the study apart piece by piece with allegations of scientific inaccuracies.  

However, less than two months following the failure of Proposition 1 and the subsequent withdraw of the two largest ridesharing companies from Austin, a new study on the lifesaving effects that effective ridesharing companies bring to cities is forcing many Austin residents to come to terms with the apparent consequences of their crusade against the sharing economy.

The study which focused on Uber found that:

  • Not only did the presence of ride-sharers decrease the rate of DUI arrests and fatal accidents, but Uber’s presence in an urban area also decreased the rate of criminal & disorderly conduct arrests across the 150 cities and counties the study focused on between 2010 and 2013.
  • Many of these benefits also increased the longer Uber remained in operation.
  • With emphasis to the decrease in fatalities, for each consecutive month that Uber operated in a city, the rate of fatal accidents fell by an additional 2.1%.

The implications of this new study come in stark contrast to the city’s claims that their regulation of the ridesharing economy is only in the best interests of public safety. One should also consider that the city’s stance on this issue came from the same city that has, through their “ban the box” measure, aims to prohibit most employers from inquiring about their prospective employees’ criminal records.