Drinking & Driving: Eliminating the Problem

Image: Uber.com

We hope you had as fantastic a time in San Diego for the 2017 VIBE Conference as we did. If you weren’t able to attend this year, we have great news for you: you’ll still be able to benefit from all of the knowledge and expertise that was shared. Over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing articles containing all of the information you need to take your programs and promotions to the next level.

Now that VIBE attendees are back to work and settled in (including us!), let’s start with the sobering topic of drinking and driving. Moderator Paul Saper (Sponsiv Digital, Inc.) and panelist Josh Deitch, senior operations manager of southern California for Uber, hosted the pre-conference workshop “Drinking & Driving: Eliminating the Problem,” and we’re happy to report that the room was packed.

Uber has had to weather quite a bit of controversy since the 2017 VIBE Conference. But what the majority of the news media didn’t report on is the rideshare company’s commitment to eliminating the problem of intoxicated drivers behind the wheel. While the more cynical among us may view this as Uber attempting to smooth things over, bear in mind their VIBE presentation took place before the recent spate of unflattering news coverage. Also, consider the fact that keeping intoxicated people from driving has always been a benefit of Uber. Just a few years back for example, local Los Angeles news outlets reported that part of Uber’s appeal to the Millennial demographic in particular is keeping roads safer; more people began spending time in bars more often because they could go out and not worry about drinking and driving. Since the inception of Uber, incidents of drinking and driving have fallen by 5 percent.

Before we go any further, let’s examine some statistics concerning the problem of drinking and driving. According to Saper, while we still have much more work to do to eliminate the problem, driving fatalities involving drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or greater are down from a decade ago, accounting for 30% of all traffic collisions. When drivers were asked to self-report regarding drinking and driving, 5.5% admitted to driving impaired often or very often. Twelve percent of those polled think that they've driven impaired in the past 12 months, and these were the top 5 reasons they admitted to driving:

  1. They felt that they were “Ok.”
  2. The distance they needed to travel was “not very far.”
  3. They felt that they could “be careful.”
  4. There was “no alternative.”
  5. They didn’t think they would be caught.

However, it’s the next statistic that is perhaps the most startling. Forty percent of those polled know that safe ride programs are available but only 10% use them. Uber wants to work with restaurants, bars, theaters, and other hospitality venues that serve beverage alcohol to increase consumer knowledge of their program and commitment to providing a safe driving alternative.

Deitch reiterated that Uber is commonly associated with people going out when they know they're going to consume alcohol, and he also parroted what we all want from our industry: to avoid over-serving alcohol. However, if that does occur, Deitch said that one key for eliminating drinking and driving is for both venues and consumers to be aware of Uber and as an option. Better yet, we should consider Uber as the only option in such a scenario if friends, family or coworkers are not available.

Ideally, a consumer would plan ahead. They know that they’re going out, they know that they're going to consume alcohol, and they know that they are going to take Uber home. Of course, we don’t live or operate in an idyllic world, so to eliminate drinking and driving effectively companies need to partner with Uber to build awareness. Uber wants to make sure everyone is aware that they wants to help address drink and driving, and they have done so in very real ways. For example, Uber partners with Precision Kiosks to provide branded Uber breathalyzers. Last year in Los Angeles, Uber partnered with law enforcement during the 4th of July and donated money to MADD with a trip code. The company also made free Uber Pool rides available within a specific geographic area.

The main benefits of Uber are, as Deitch pointed out, reliability, affordability and safety.

  • Reliability: A person can get a ride any time. Uber covers 75% of the United States and boasts sub-5-minute ETAs in urban areas. Rural areas, at the moment, have ETAs under 10 minutes.
  • Affordability: When it comes to pricing, Uber has a simple mantra: If it isn't affordable it will never work. With several options – Uber Pool, Uber X, Uber Black and Uber XL – there’s an option for everyone to ride conveniently and safely. As Deitch said, a $15 dollar Uber ride is better than a $10,000 (or more) DUI. It’s safer, too.
  • Safety: Deitch said that Uber is safe during all three stages of a ride: before, during and after. Before an Uber driver arrives, the person waiting doesn’t need to do so outside as they would were they attempting to hail a cab. All Uber rides are tracked via GPS and take advantage of modern-day smartphone gyroscopes and accelerometers to analyze the safety of rides. Uber continues their accountability after the ride as well, employing a law enforcement response team. All drivers must submit to a background check that includes a review of their Motor Vehicle Record through a third party company called Checkr.

Enhancing awareness and partnering with Uber can help us to eliminate the problem of drinking and driving, helping make the communities in which we operate a safer place. Let’s pledge to lead the charge towards causing incidents of drinking and driving to plunge even further by the end of this year.

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