MADD angry at ridesharing regulations

MADD angry at ridesharing regulations

madd logoDoes ridesharing cut down on drunk driving? Mothers Against Drunk Driving says yes.

MADD has entered California’s heated debate over new regulations of the state’s burgeoning ridesharing industry, arguing that the service cuts down on drunk driving. The national group, which combats drunk driving and underage drinking, specifically takes issue with two bills working their way through the Legislature that would hurt ridesharing services, such as Lyft, SideCar and Uber.

In its letter of opposition to Assembly Bill 2293 and Assembly Bill 612, MADD wrote that the bills “could have dramatic consequences for the future of ridesharing in the state.”

“MADD supports new ridesharing platforms like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar as well as traditional taxi services that are enabling more options to provide safe rides in communities across the country,” J.T. Griffin, MADD’s chief government affairs officer, wrote in an open letter to state lawmakers.

MADD about AB612 and AB2293

Assembly Bill 2293 would force ridesharing services to have more insurance coverage than is currently carried by most taxi companies. That proposed regulation would make ridesharing drivers among the most insured cars on the road. If it passes, it’d even force drivers to carry commercial grade insurance during the period when no rider is in the car and no commercial activity is taking place.

“AB2293 would require a massive increase in insurance even when the rideshare drivers are not participating in the program and are in effect driving as private citizens,” MADD stated in its opposition letter. “Such an increase in insurance costs could stifle a new industry and have the unintended consequence of raising rates which these rideshare services must charge.”

According to a legislative analysis, ridesharing companies would be required to carry $1 million in uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage “from the moment a passenger enters the vehicle of a participating driver until the passenger exits the vehicle.”

AB612: “End of the ride-share industry”

Assembly Bill 612 by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Van Nuys, would require ridesharing companies to abide by extensive new regulations, including the requirement of background checks, monitoring driving records and drug and alcohol testing. The companies already rate their drivers and review driving records, which leads many to speculate that the regulations are intended as a punitive effort to snuff out the industry.

Earlier this month, in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Sidecar CEO Sunil Paul said that the bill could mean the end of the industry. Paul told the Mercury News that the bill was “a burdensome approach that is backed by the taxicab lobby, really, to try and shut us down. If it passes, it is a disaster — it would literally spell the end of the ride-share industry.”

Uber echoed the sentiment and is urging its customers to fight back.

“Other states, like Colorado, have found legislative solutions that help advance technologies like Uber and protect consumers and drivers,” Uber wrote in its letter urging customers to oppose the bills. “But supporters of AB612 would altogether ignore the vibrant new ridesharing ecosystem and try to make it impossible for companies like Uber to operate.”

National data show drop in DUIs

National data overwhelmingly support MADD’s position that ridesharing lowers the number of drunk drivers on the road.

Blogger and ridesharing fan Nate Good analyzed DUI arrest data in the city of Philadelphia. His analysis showed that, as ridesharing has increased in popularity, there’s been a drop in DUI arrests. And the data show a cultural shift in attitudes: the biggest drop has occurred among people under 30.

“After all ride sharing services were in effect (April 2013 through the end of 2013), the average number of DUIs per month dropped across the board by 11 percent, with those under 30 being mostly responsible for the drop,” Good wrote in his detailed analysis.

In addition to Philadelphia, the Washington Post conducted an analysis of DUI data from San Francisco and reached similar conclusions. In May, Uber produced its own analysis of DUI data from Seattle, which showed a more than 10 percent drop in DUI arrests.

“We estimate that the entrance of Uber in Seattle caused the number of arrests for DUI to decrease by more than 10 percent. These results are robust and statistically significant,” Uber wrote on the company’s website. “While there is plenty of room to explore this topic in future studies, the data confirm the intuitive claim, backed up by countless anecdotes, that potential drunk drivers will choose other options, like rides with Uber, when they are convenient, affordable, and readily available.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving stresses that, while ridesharing companies are helpful in the fight against drunk driving, tough drunk driving laws and increased enforcement are also needed.

“While the best way to stop drunk driving is to couple strong drunk driving laws with strong DUI enforcement and educating the public on the consequences of breaking these laws, it is also important for those over the age of 21 to have a safe ride should they go out to consume alcoholic beverages,” MADD wrote in its letter.

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