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Uber offers free rides as sponsor of Mothers Against Drunk Driving event

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Tampa residents who pledge to not drink and drive can snag themselves a free ride courtesy of ride-hailing service Uber, as part of a local Mothers Against Drunk Driving awareness event.

“Every day in the United States 30 people are killed in car crashes that involve a drunk driver. That’s one person every 51 minutes,” said Uber Trust and Safety Lead Amanda DeSantis. “At Uber we aim to change the way people think about drinking and driving. By providing a safe, reliable, and convenient transportation option for Floridians, we empower people to make the right decision and help make our communities safer.”

The promotion, announced Thursday, is part of Uber’s sponsorship of the ninth annual “Walk Like MADD” fundraising event to be held at the University of South Florida Friday evening.

The event will honor Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy John Kotfila Jr., who was killed after being hit by a drunken driver this month. Participants who are new to Uber and take the pledge will get a promotional code for a free ride.

“Since Uber came to Hillsborough County 18 months ago, we’ve seen a more than 14 percent reduction in drunk driving deaths,” said Bianca Kendall, manager of MADD’s West Central Florida chapter.

A joint report from Uber and MADD also found that 78 percent of people surveyed said that since the ride-sharing company became available in their city, their friends are less likely to drive after drinking.

In 2014, Florida had 5,660 crashes involving alcohol, 416 of them fatal, and 42,745 DUI arrests. Uber said in an email that its Hillsborough business peaks at the same time alcohol-related crash fatalities typically occur.

The San Francisco-based company also said it’s honored to have the support of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who signed a letter to Senate President Andy Gardiner in support of a proposed comprehensive ride-sharing bill.

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Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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