new technology to decrease traffic accidents

Traffic accidents—can new technology help?

Behavior, Technology

In Brazil we are well aware that there are too many serious car accidents, and often the tragedies mix alcohol with driving.  Many car experts expect that some day, self-driving cars will radically cut the number of traffic deaths. That technology, however, will take many years to become common.

But there is a product of the technology boom that is available now. Several research studies have shown it can significantly decrease the number of traffic accidents—specifically the number of fatal accidents due to drunken driving. That product is Uber (and similar services), which can be an alternative to a drunk person behind the wheel.

The Uber company itself published a report in 2015 claiming that, in the US at least, alcohol-related crashes decreased in certain areas by 6 to 10%. Much of this drop was related to fewer alcohol-related crashes by young people who were using Uber.

Uber sponsored the study, which praised their company, so maybe we should not believe the results. But several other studies have come to the same conclusion. A recent study from the City University of New York, examined the number of alcohol related crashes in New York City, where the service has been popular since 2011. The researchers compared crash data from New York City with other areas without the service. The results showed a 25 to 35 percent reduction in alcohol-related car accidents in the areas the car services operated.

Most of the studies have shown a drop in crashes and fatalities from Uber, but a study last year in the American Journal of Epidemiology found no significant drop in accidents. The researchers noted that while using Uber makes sense if you are drinking and driving, that many intoxicated people do not make rational choices.

What you can do

We rarely endorse specific products or services, but the tragedy of drunk-driving deaths in Brazil is so great that we think any driver should consider this alternative. As noted in the last study, once someone is intoxicated, they may not make rational choices. So we need to think about this before we get into a situation where drinking and driving is involved, both for yourself and members of your family.

Are you going to a party or club where you will be drinking? If you don’t have a “designated driver”, think about Uber (or a similar service) to take you to and from the party. These services are typically much cheaper than a taxi, and even less expensive if you split the expense with other passengers.

Be a responsible host

If you are hosting a party where people will be drinking, you might suggest a driving service to your guests with the invitation. And even if you use a driving service, don’t forget that you still need your seatbelt, even in the back seat. Never get into a car with an intoxicated driver. Take his keys and call an Uber or taxi instead. Besides being much safer, this lowers the risk of serious legal complications if someone is caught drinking and driving.

If you want to find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website:

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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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