BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — In a short while, ridesharing will be a reality in Western New York. Some officials are hoping it’ll have a major impact right away as they want to see a decrease in drinking and driving related incidents.
“There is clearly no reason for anyone to drink and drive,” said John Flynn, the Erie County District Attorney.
Yet, numbers reflect that people are still getting behind the wheel and driving after having too many drinks.
“When someone loses their life to an alcohol related incident, it affects, not only the family, but the entire community,” said Flynn.
And the DA is among the group of leaders hoping ridesharing will be impacting entire communities, too, by reducing how many drinking and driving incidents there are. According to the DA’s office, there has been a steady increase of felony DWI arrests with almost 600 coming in 2016, up from 576 in 2015, 566 the year prior, and 549 in 2013.
And that’s as there’s been an increase in DWI-related deaths as well — six in 2016 and five in 2015. So far this year, there’s been one in the county.
“Now that we have ridesharing, there’s even more reason now for non one to drink and drive,” said the district attorney.
Several studies have linked Lyft and Uber to lower numbers of DWI-related incidents. One study, out of Temple University, cites cities with ridesharing experience up to 5.6% fewer drunk driving deaths than cities without access t to the amenity.
“It’s unfortunate that anyone drinks and drives but it’s clearly more unfortunate if someone does it and kills another human being,” said Flynn.
Other leaders are agreeing with him and hoping the apps create safer driving conditions for everyone in the region. As they’re doing that, they’re promising to continue working for safety and saving lives, saying that if a ridesharing driver is arrested for a DWI, on the clock or off, they’ll be strongly prosecuted and the ridesharing company will know right away.
“We all agree that the greatest tragedies are those that are preventable,” says Sheriff Tim Howard. “And any DWI fatal or DWI accident could easily be prevented.”