Advocates say ride-sharing apps could cut down on New Year’s Eve drunk driving

In this photo taken Feb. 25, 2016, an Uber decal is displayed in the their window of the car owned by Steve Linnes, a music teacher in State College, Pa., who is also a part-time Uber driver. Gov. Tom Wolf and Pittsburgh-area officials said Tuesday, May 3, 2016, they want Pennsylvania regulators to greatly reduce their record-setting $11.4 million fine against ride-sharing company Uber. The Public Utility Commission fined Uber last month for operating six months in 2014 without the required approval. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The push to bring ridesharing to the Capital Region and the rest of Upstate New York continues.

Ahead of the New Year’s holiday weekend, ridesharing advocates say bringing Uber and Lyft to the area could reduce the number of drunk drivers on the roads.

Right now, if you open the Uber app in the Capital Area you get a message telling you Uber is not available in your area. With ridesharing not an option, some people may make the wrong decision and get behind the wheel.

Community leaders came together at Albany City Hall to continue the momentum for getting ridesharing apps like Lyft and Uber passed in Upstate New York.

Ahead of New Year’s Eve weekend, many law enforcement agencies will have added patrols on the roads.

Albany Sheriff Craig Apple cited nearly 20 recent deaths related to drunk driving.

Advocates say ridesharing is necessary for helping the elderly get around, and could boost the economy upstate.

But they also say the services could reduce the number of people who get behind the wheel after a few drinks.

“Over the course of the New Year’s holiday crackdown you’ll see 500 arrests for DWI,” said Troy Businessman Vic Christopher. “You will probably see close to six deaths unfortunately as part of the New Year’s Eve festivities and we feel that ride sharing has to cut down on these numbers.”

New York’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving Executive Director Richard Mallow agrees.

“We need to layer it and give people many opportunities, not one or two. That’s what ride share does, it gives us all many opportunities,” said Mallow.

The Governor’s office has put out draft legislation for a ridesharing bill. Assemblyman Phil Steck says he had a bill in the works too. Many lawmakers say they want to push through some version of a ride sharing bill as soon as possible once the session starts next week.

The Upstate Transportation Association said in a statement Wednesday, “we look forward to discussing passenger safety and insurance standards in public hearings after the state legislative session begins in January.”

Some people, including Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, say the cab system just isn’t working for the Capital Region, and is no longer a viable alternative, but that ridesharing could be.

‘To know that actually a vehicle is going to show up the first time that they press that app, that they’re not going to be calling back to a dispatcher three times and then be hung up on,” said Mayor Sheehan.

Sheriff Apple says the more available options for rides the better, and the less likely drunk, drugged, or buzzed drivers will get behind the wheel.

“The more tools that are in that toolbox, the better chance we have at saving lives,” said Sheriff Apple.

 

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