Uber leads to an increase in binge drinking - study

The study found increases of up to 22 percent in binge drinking.
The study found increases of up to 22 percent in binge drinking. Photo credit: Getty Images

A new study says ridesharing services such as Uber are contributing to a rise in alcohol consumption.

Researchers from the University of Louisville and Georgia State University claim that while ridesharing apps make it easier for users to have a safe ride home, it also encourages late-night drinking.

The researchers took self-reported data on alcohol consumption from America's Centers for Disease Control and matched it with cities where Uber is available to see if there was any correlation.

They found, on average, a three percent increase in the number of drinking days per month, a five percent increase in the maximum number of drinks consumed on one occasion and a nine percent increase in heavy drinking in American cities where Uber is available. 

Ridesharing apps were found to have a stronger impact on the increase of drinking in areas where existing public transport is weak. There was an increase of 18-22 percent of binge drinking instances in these cities.

The research also claims that Uber had a positive impact on drunk driving instances, showing a 25-35 percent decrease in the alcohol-related collision rate in New York City.

"Ridesharing services can reduce some of the harms associated with alcohol, especially driving under the influence.

"However, alcohol consumption is often a social activity. The advent of ridesharing could increase the quantity and frequency of drinking in social settings for both users and non-users of ride-sharing services," the report said.

The study also found an increase in employment numbers and earnings at bars, and said that Uber therefore increases alcohol consumption and this drinking is occurring in social situations.

Uber has been approached for comment.