January 27, 2015 / 5:35 PM / 5 years ago

Uber says ride services reduce drunk driving

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Uber, a ride service facing legal challenges around the world, on Tuesday released a survey showing that people are less likely to drive home after drinking alcohol after such businesses started operating in their cities.

Transportation app Uber is seen on the iPhone of limousine driver Shuki Zanna, 49, in Beverly Hills, California, December 19, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The results of the survey, done with advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, were based on a December poll of 807 adults in the largest U.S. cities where Uber operates. They come as Uber tries to establish solid legal footing for its service.

As Uber and rival Lyft grow, they are battling legal efforts, many led by taxi companies whose businesses are suffering because of the ride services, to keep them out of cities around the world.

Uber customers who request rides over the upcoming Super Bowl weekend, a time that traditionally sees a spike in drunk driving, can opt to donate $1 to Mothers Against Drunk Driving by typing in the code THINKANDRIDE, it said.

MADD President Colleen Sheehey-Church said she was delighted to work with Uber.

The company also released findings that it says show that California cities where it launches its low-frills UberX service experienced a drop of 6.5 percent in drunk-driving crashes involving drivers under age 30.

The data came from the California Highway Patrol and covered 17 California markets during 2011 to 2013, Uber said.

Other factors, such as intensified campaigns against drunk driving, may have contributed to the numbers, Uber executive Jonathan Hall said in a phone interview.

Uber operates globally, while Lyft operates only in the United States.

(This version of the story corrects paragraph four code to THINKANDRIDE instead of UBERMADD)

Reporting by Sarah McBride; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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