- Kara Driscoll Staff Writer
Ridesharing services, like Uber, and local law enforcement are trying to combat impaired driving on New Year’s Eve.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in 2016, there were 891 drunk driving fatalities across the country, accounting for 26 percent of all traffic fatalities. Fatalities were down compared to 978 deaths in 2015 during the same time period, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
People are more aware of the dangers of getting behind the wheel after drinking, and thanks to increased education and enforcement, roads are safer for everyone, according to Uber. However, each day almost 29 people in the U.S. die in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes. That’s one person every 50 minutes in 2016, according to the high administration.
“This holiday season, I hope that everyone is able to make it home safe and sound,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church, whose 18-year-old son Dustin was killed in a teen drunk and drugged driving crash. “We can all take part in making our roads safer by designating a non-drinking driver if plans include alcohol.”
Uber, which launched in Dayton several years ago, expects ride demand to increase in the region from midnight to 3 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Fare prices will surge on New Year’s Eve as more people request rides. Uber company officials said their app asks riders to confirm that they understand the fares are higher before a ride request is fulfilled.
“With upfront fares, there’s no surprises,” Uber said in a statement.
Montgomery County Prosecuting Attorney Mat Heck Jr. said his office, in partnership with Heidelberg Distributing Company and AAA Miami Valley, is offering free cab rides home for county residents during the holiday weekend. The ArriveSafe program has provided more than 6,100 free cab rides for residents since December 2007.
In Montgomery County, there were nine alcohol-related fatal traffic crashes in 2016 during the holidays. That was down drastically from 20 alcohol-related fatal traffic crashes in 2015.
“Nine alcohol-related traffic fatalities is still too many, especially since each and every one of those fatalities were completely avoidable – if only the driver had made the smart decision and chose to get home safely, by having a designated driver, using a taxi, or a ride-sharing service such as Uber or Lyft,” Heck said.
ArriveSafe offered free cab rides home for Montgomery County residents on Dec. 22 through Dec. 26. The rides will also be offered from Dec. 29 through 6 a.m. on Jan. 2. Ohio State Highway Patrol also said they would have an increased presence on state roadways to remove impaired drivers. Motorists are encouraged to report impaired drivers and drug activity by calling the Patrol at #677.
“You decide – do you want to go home safely in the back of a cab for free, or go to jail, handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser, which may cost you thousands of dollars? A simple decision,” Heck said.