Computer wonk Nate Good recently released a few infographics about DUIs in Philly. Here’s the trend: From April 2013 to the end of the year, DUIs declined 11 percent. Looking at Good’s charts, DUIs have been trending downward for the last few years.
Anecdotally, this makes sense. First, the obvious: Mass transit ridership is way up — SEPTA had its highest ridership in 57 years in 2013 — and fewer people driving means fewer DUIs. But even if a side effect of fewer people driving is a reduction in DUIs, that’s a nice side effect.
Good is from Pittsburgh; there, he’s a proponent of (sigh) “e-hailing” services like Uber and Lyft. They were both recently banned in that city by the state’s Public Utilities Commission. He believes the drop in Philadelphia is partially due the ubiquity and availability of these apps. In Philadelphia, unlike Pittsburgh, the PPA regulates taxis — and only Sidecar was kicked out of Philly. (UberX, the company’s lower-cost option, only operates in South Jersey; Lyft doesn’t operate here.)
Correlation is not causation, but Good notes the drop in DUIs correlates with the introduction of Uber to Philadelphia. Part of his evidence: He splits the DUI totals into people over and under the age of 30. That's not exactly a standard data set but Good says that, after many talks with Uber drivers, he believes most people who use the service are under 30. And while DUIs declined 11 percent overall during the April 2013 to December 2013 timeframe, they declined 18.5 percent among the under-30 set but only 5.3 percent among those over 30.
Whatever the reasons for the DUI drop, people seem to be driving drunk less often in Philadelphia recently, and that's good. And people under 30 are doing it even less often! Good news all around.