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Uber says ride-hailing is helping to reduce DUIs

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The ride-hailing firm Uber held a press conference on Monday with two Florida officials to talk about their services are “changing the mindset” of Floridians in terms of how they get home after a night out.

Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo and Miami Gardens Sen. Oscar Braynon joined with Uber Trust and Safety Lead Amanda DeSantis, who presented research Uber conducted which shows a correlation between peak rider times – generally around the closing times of bars and late on weekends – and dangerous times for drivers.

Drunk driving crashes in Miami, for instance, generally peaked around midnight, as did Uber ridership according to the research.

DeLeo, who also serves as a district director for the Florida Police Chiefs Association, said apps like Uber are an important piece of changing the norms that govern drinking and driving.

“Services that increase access to safe and sober rides can help change the staggering statistics of alcohol related crashes and arrests in Florida,” said DeLeo, though he conceded he had no specific data on the issue. “It’s incredibly important for us to have conversations with public entities and private companies. When we work together to better educate Floridians and provide them with safe options for transportation, as a community we stand a better chance of reducing the number of DUIs and DUI fatalities.”

Braynon concurred, and added that Uber and similar apps are especially important to consider in Florida, where public transportation options are weak or non-existent.

“Which city in Florida has the best public transportation infrastructure?” asked Braynon. “Probably Miami, and all we have is one metro rail which goes up and down US-1.”

“Whether you’re here in a college town or down in South Beach, it’s very comforting to know we have a safe option to get yourself a ride home,” Braynon said of ride-hailing services, calling them “the wave of the future.”

Uber’s DeSantis revealed recently collected data saying that 78 percent of people in Uber markets said their friends are less likely to drive after drinking, and that a study of data in Seattle showed a 10 percent drop in DUI arrests.

DeSantis also highlighted a public-private partnership with the small town of Evesham, New Jersey in which the city offered free rides from bars earlier this year, and pointed towards the move as a model for other cities around the nation.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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