People want convenience. People do not want to spend money if they do not have to.
This is how most San Diego DUIs occur. The people know they should not drive but do because they do not want to pay for a cab or think they can be ok getting a few miles back to their house. I cannot tell you how many people get a San Diego DUI arrest blocks from their house…asking the officer, “can I just please go home, it is right down there”.
Uber makes getting home easier for people. It is convenient. The cost is manageable. Your credit card is already on file.
I have no doubt it curbs San Diego DUIs. This service should be applauded and not attacked.
Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick seized on the opportunity Monday to flag what he saw as a bit of ironic news: A California state senator was arrested for allegedly driving while under the influence of alcohol, hours after voting for legislation that would further regulate ride-sharing services such as Uber.
Upon finding out about the arrest, Kalanick tweeted:
Kalanick’s point was that Ben Hueso, the California senator who has since apologized for being arrested, could have used Uber instead of getting behind the wheel. (To be fair, he also could have taken a traditional taxi or called a friend).
Kalanick has been vocal about Uber’s potential to help curb drunk driving by making it easy for bar hoppers to summon a ride. In a joint column with the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, the pair wrote:
What’s especially encouraging is the impact Uber has already had on drunk driving, which is significant and meaningful. According to Uber’s analysis, DUI arrests in Seattle decreased by more than 10% after Uber started serving riders and drivers in the city. We expect that kind of change is happening in cities around the world, and it’s the kind of progress that provides great hope for the next phase in the effort to end drunk driving.
This message is becoming a key piece of Uber’s PR campaign to show the benefits of using a ride-sharing service rather than getting behind the wheel. Former Obama adviser David Plouffe even mentioned it in a statement last week after he was named Uber’s policy and strategy chief. One of Uber’s selling points, Plouffe wrote, is to “make our roads safer, drastically cutting down on drunk and distracted driving.”
Other Uber competitors such as Lyft and Sidecar have also pointed out ride-sharing as a force to minimize drunk driving.
It’s still unclear if the services are directly lowering the DUI rate. Beyond Uber’s own data from May, the Washington Post cited data that that showed DUI arrest rates in Philadelphia and San Francisco declined as various ride-sharing services were introduced to those cities. But, as the Post pointed out, the data wasn’t adjusted for the city’s population or economy, and there could be multiple reasons for the decline, such as changes to public-transit service on certain routes near bars, or modifications to how the police conduct DUI stops and arrests.
The ride-sharing services have been battling the taxi industry in dozens of other cities around the world for the right to compete. Hueso was one of several California lawmakers who voted on a bill that would regulate Uber and its brethren more closely like taxis with stricter drug testing, mandatory criminal background checks and driver fingerprinting.
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