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In NHTSA’s 2007 National Roadside Survey, half (53%) of intoxicated drivers (BAC≥.08 g/dL) reported coming from a bar, restaurant, or a friend’s house, and approximately 70% were driving home (Lacey et al., 2009). Having alternative transportation is important to reduce the need for intoxicated people to drive after drinking. Alternative transportation can include for-profit rideshare services, nonprofit safe ride programs, and public transportation such as subways or buses.

For-profit rideshare services are on-demand transportation providers that may be accessed through a mobile application. Rideshare services have expanded greatly over the past decade, accounting for up to 14% of VMT in some urban areas (Fehr & Peers, 2019). The largest rideshare service providers in the United States are Uber and Lyft, responsible for nearly all rideshare business (Blomberg Second Measure, 2022).

Nonprofit safe ride programs are free or charge a minimal fee and often operate in specific regions (e.g., near university campuses) or at specific times (e.g., weekends and holidays). Some will drive the drinker’s car home along with the drinker. Safe ride programs are relatively inexpensive and easy for communities to implement. Although it can be difficult to measure the effectiveness of these programs, they can play a role in a community’s efforts to reduce drinking and driving. For an overview, see Barrett et al. (2017), Decina et al. (2009), Fell et al. (2020), and Neuman et al. (2003).


In 2017 the TIRF surveyed a random, representative sample of American drivers 21 and older. Almost half (45%) of respondents said they were familiar with safe ride home programs (Wicklund et al., 2018). Of these, 78% said that safe ride home programs were available in their area, and 14% reported using these programs at least sometimes. One in five (19%) respondents said they had used a for-profit rideshare service after drinking alcohol. People living in urban areas (37%) were more likely to report having used a rideshare service than those living in suburban (21%) or rural (9%) areas. Additionally, use of rideshare services and safe ride home programs was more common among younger people than older people. Finally, 45% said public transportation was available in their area, and 22% reported using public transportation at least sometimes.


Fell et al. (2020) reviewed 125 studies of alternative transportation programs. The review found that well-implemented programs can reduce impaired driving. For example, a safe ride program called “Road Crew” that provided rides to drinkers in rural Wisconsin was successful in reducing alcohol-impaired driving, especially among young adults (Rothschild et al., 2006). Several studies suggest decreases in impaired driving arrests when rideshare services are first introduced in a community (Casanova Powell Consulting & Smith, 2020, 2021; Dills & Mulholland, 2018; MADD, 2015). With respect to crashes, the findings are mixed. A recent large-scale study examined hospitalizations for motor vehicle crashes after Uber was introduced in Houston in 2014 (Conner et al., 2021). There was a 24% reduction in people hospitalized on Friday and Saturday nights, but not at other times of day or days of the week. This suggests Uber may have reduced alcohol-related driving and crashes. The effect was limited to people under age 30. Other studies have found little to no positive impact of alternative transportation on crashes. In their review, Fell et al. (2020) conclude the most successful alternative transportation programs are accepted by the community, have high public awareness, are low cost or free, are available year round, and provide rides both to and from drinking venues.


The major ride service program costs are for the rides that are provided. Short-term ride service programs can be operated largely with donated rides. Year-round programs need enough steady funding to accommodate demand (Neuman et al., 2003).

Time to implement:

Short-term ride service programs can be established and operated informally in a few weeks. Longer-term programs need to establish long-term strategies for funding and managing the program.