Uber's operations in California have decreased the cases of drinking and driving fatalities in the state, according to a new study.
The research, which was conducted by business professors Brad Greenwood and Sunil Wattal from Temple University, analyzed sets of data collected from the years 2009 to 2014.
Greenwood and Wattal will be presenting the study in Vancouver next week at the Academy of Management conference, just as municipalities in Canada are looking to keep Uber from expanding their services into their cities.
The study found that UberX, the company's economy driving service, resulted in drinking and driving fatalities decreasing by between 3.6 percent and 5.6 percent in cities in California where it is offered within the first three months of the launch of the service.
Greenwood and Wattal believe that the lower price of UberX and the easy access to its services, compared with regular taxi cabs, is giving people that have been out drinking with a better option to get home.
The fares paid by customers using the services of UberX are cheaper by about 20 percent to 30 percent compared to the fares of taxi cabs, leading drunk people to call for an UberX ride instead of taking a cab or driving home by themselves. In addition, calling for an UberX ride is more convenient than hailing a taxi cab, as users will only have to input their location and destination on a smartphone app to request for the service.
The study also found that the rate of drinking and driving fatalities in the weekends remained the same, possibly because the rates of UberX are higher during these days. The number of deaths also did not change when UberBlack, the more expensive version of the service, is introduced into a city.
Among the notes of the study is that over 13,000 fatalities happen in the United States annually due to drinking and driving incidents. If the results of the study hold true for the rest of the country, it would translate to 500 lives being saved per year due to UberX's services.
The study is released just as Vancouver is currently evaluating whether the city's "vehicle for hire" bylaw may eventually include Uber's services, as 27,000 people signed a petition to allow the ride service into the city.
Uber, as it has experienced in a long list of locations worldwide, is facing pushback from the government and taxi companies in Vancouver.