New findings suggest that the city of Austin, Texas, is experiencing a surge in drunk driving after Uber and Lyft pulled out in May 2016. Per Austin Police Department findings, drunk driving rose 7.5 percent after Uber and Lyft suspended operations in the city:
DWI arrests have spiked since Uber and Lyft left Austin. The Austin Police Department released new numbers to KEYE TV that show there were 359 DWI arrests from May 9, the day Uber and Lyft shut down, to May 31st of this year. Last year during the same time period, there were 334 arrests. That’s a 7.5 percent increase in the weeks following their departure.
Both companies suspended ride-sharing services after Austin residents voted against Proposition 1 last spring. Had it passed, Proposition 1 would have overturned city-wide regulations like fingerprint-based background checks for drivers and a prohibition on picking up / dropping customers while parked in traffic lanes. The measure was defeated by a 56-44 margin, with only 17 percent of registered voters in Travis County participating in the election. All Austin ride-sharing drivers now must have their fingerprints scanned by February 1, 2017.
Here’s the impact Uber and Lyft had on drunk driving when they were operating in Austin, TX:
Before Uber came to town in 2014, Austin Police Department’s data showed that the city had an average of 525 drunk driving arrests per month. When these numbers were revisited a year after ridesharing came to Austin, drunk driving arrests had dropped by five percent. This trend continued the following year when the number of drunk driving arrests dropped by an additional 12 percent, bringing the average number of arrests to about 438 per month.
Not only did drunk driving spike in Austin after the companies pulled out, 10,000 people lost their jobs as a result of this vote last spring. Talk about a dangerous move for people and their livelihoods…
Those elected officials opposed to emerging technologies must be held accountable for putting public safety at risk. Why stifle ingenuity? Is it because these individuals hate being forced to compete in the free market? Or is it because the taxi lobby sends them a big, fat check to maintain the status quo? Creating artificial cushions to protect yourself in an industry is not only foolish, it’s antithetical to American free enterprise. Given these findings, banning Uber and Lyft is going to cost many people their jobs and their lives. The people of Austin must work tirelessly to reverse course.
Let’s hope emerging technologies like Uber and Lyft can continue be embraced in larger cities across the country without facing any more roadblocks to operation.