As Austin Struggles To Understand Life Without Uber & Lyft, DUI Arrests On The Rise

from the not-cool dept

A month ago, folks in Austin Texas voted against a proposition that Uber and Lyft supported, concerning a number of new rules that would be put on ride hailing operations. Given that, both companies immediately shut down operations in Austin -- a city with over a million residents and only 900 cabs. In response, people are so desperate for rides that they're seriously trying to recreate the Lyft/Uber experience by using a Facebook group where people can post their location, negotiate a fee, and have someone pick them up (something that seems a lot more dangerous than typical Uber/Lyft).


DUI (driving under the influence) arrests have gone up by 7.5% compared to the previous year.

This does not mean that Uber/Lyft leaving is absolutely the cause, as there may be lots of other factors. But the anecdotal evidence certainly suggests it's having an impact. From the Vocative story linked above:

“The first Friday and Saturday after Uber was gone, we were joking that it was like the zombie apocalypse of drunk people,” Cooper said.

People were so desperate for rides, she said, that she’d pull up to a corner and pedestrians would offer to hop in her car as soon as they spotted her old Uber and Lyft emblems in the windshield. “They don’t even know who I am,” she chuckled in amazement.

Even more troubling than the late-night pedestrian concern is Austin’s rampant drunk driving problem—last year the city had more than 5,800 DWI arrests, according to police data. Back in December the city’s Police Chief Art Acevedo expressed concern for how an Uberless Austin would affect the road safety. “If we take away the (ride-hailing firms) here and in other cities, it definitely will impact DWI,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

No matter what you think of Lyft or Uber, it's pretty clear that they're very, very useful services for lots of people -- and that includes drunk people who no one should want behind the wheel themselves. Putting in place regulations to limit those services seems to be backfiring, and hopefully it doesn't lead to loss of life either through drunk driving or less safe drivers making use of the informal Facebook groups.

Filed Under: austin, dui, dwi, innovation, ride hailing, ride sharing, texas
Companies: lyft, uber


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  1. icon
    Shane C (profile), 27 Jun 2016 @ 6:45pm

    Parroting Uber, and Lyft talking points don't make them any more legit

    Good God! I freaking amazes me how many people, apparently Mike included, feel compelled to come to the defense of companies trying to strong arm local government. Somehow believing that because those companies used a newer technology to operate, they must somehow be above reproach?

    WAKE UP!

    Uber, and Lyft were/are trying to strong-arm the government into writing laws specifically tailored for their monopoly. They were (past tense) the only companies operating in town when they spent millions of dollars spreading false statistics so they could further their own agenda. In an immature hissy-fit they've now left Austin, and been REPLACED WITH FIVE LEGAL (and one questionable) ALTERNATIVES. Five companies that want to operate legally, with the local government, and community.

    People around here in particular, like to complain about how lobbyists are rewriting the laws for their greedy desires. But now when the local community stands up and tries to stop them, how many of you are siding with those same lobbyists?

    And to Mike specifically;

    What the hell dude! Talk about bad reporting. First off you forget to mention that there's five fully legal ride sharing alternatives currently operating in Austin. Instead you concentrate, and ONLY MENTION THE ONE QUESTIONABLY LEGAL OPERATION! What the hell?

    Then the article you link to doesn't even come close to supporting that bull shit statistic that you so blindly parroted. In fact, it shows that ride sharing made no impact on DWI's at all.

    Let me repeat that, RIDE SHARING MADE NO IMPACT ON DWI ARRESTS!

    Between June 2015 and February 2016, the number of DWI-related wrecks increased by 4 percent when compared with the same nine-month time period in 2014 and 2015, a Statesman analysis found.

    Over the past five years, the largest decrease in that June-to-February time period occurred between 2012 and 2013, when the number of drunken driving accidents dropped by 26 percent. That was before Lyft and Uber came to Austin.

    In the Statesman analysis, the figures for each period run from June, the month that ride-hailing services came to Austin in 2014, to February, the most recent month that statistics were available.
    (http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/police-revise-drunken-driving-crash-stats- key-to-p/nrHyH/)

    If ride sharing never reduced the number of DWI arrests, how can it somehow spike them after they've left?

    And that's from the article that YOU LINKED TO! Come on Mike, I expect much better reporting out of you and Techdirt in general.

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