MADD Hypes Uber In New Report After Ride-Sharing Company Gives Large Donation

By McCarton Ackerman 02/04/15

The ride-sharing company is courting controversy once again.

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In a classic case of blurred lines, ride-sharing app Uber was praised by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) as a useful tool in helping prevent car crashes as Uber has been donating money to them.

Both organizations recently put out a joint report, which stated that Uber was responsible for a reduction in drunk-driving crashes for drivers under age 30 in cities where it is available. MADD praised the app as a “powerful tool in the fight to reduce the number of drunk-driving crashes.”

However, ProPublica examined the numbers and found that drunk-driving crashes among this demographic are down in both Uber and non-Uber markets. There is also no evidence to suggest that Uber is directly responsible for this decline.

MADD’s praise of the app is particularly suspicious due to their joint partnership with Uber announced last summer. The ride-sharing app company pledged to donate $1 to MADD for every ride taken and $10 for each new customer who used the service in a 24-hour window around July 4th weekend, as long as they used an UberMADD promo code. They also ran a similar campaign on Super Bowl Sunday with the promo code, "ThinkandRide."

Amy George, senior vice president of marketing and communications at MADD, reportedly tried to back away from the press release at first. She told ProPublica that the statistics were a “correlation relationship” and not a “causation relationship.” She then later denied that MADD was backing away from their initial statement.

“MADD strongly stands behind the report and that Uber is a powerful tool to reduce drunk driving,” wrote George. “We have consistently said the data is correlative, and those correlations are valid at showing that Uber is having an impact…to imply otherwise is incorrect.”

Uber has also recently partnered with a portable breathalyzer app called Breeze. Users blow into the portable device that pairs to a smartphone via Bluetooth and, if it’s determined that they are not fit to drive, the app places a call to Uber and allows them to order a ride from their phone.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.