WASHINGTON, D.C. (KETK) – Texas is on the short list of states that received a grant aimed to help cut down on drunk or drugged driving this holiday season. 

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has partnered with Uber to award several states grants that will support initiatives to help prevent impaired driving this holiday season.

Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, New Mexico and Texas State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) have been awarded more than $95,000 in grant funds to implement the initiative. The program is said to encourage  people who consume alcohol or other impairing substances to use ride-hailing instead of putting themselves and others on the road at risk by getting behind the wheel.

These grants come at a vital time, too. Not only will there be more traffic on the road than usual due to the holidays, but traffic-related deaths have surged over the past year. Compared to the same period in 2020, traffic deaths have increased more than 20% in the first half of the year alone.  Drunk and drug-impaired driving increased during the pandemic and as travel increases for the holiday season, there are even more opportunities for impaired driving.

“There are already too many families that will have empty chairs at their holiday dinner tables this year because of the pandemic. It’s tragic and frustrating to see even more lives lost on our roads from completely preventable drunk and drug-impaired driving crashes. GHSA is proud to partner with Uber to help states provide people a safe and convenient alternative to driving impaired.”

GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins

Statistically, ride-hailing services have been shown to reduce crash and impaired driving rates by offering an alternative to getting behind the wheel impaired. The Journal of the American Medical Association published an independent, peer-reviewed study earlier this year that found that after Uber entered the Houston market in 2014, weekend motor vehicle crash traumas decreased by 38.9% for people under 30, an age group more likely to drive impaired. The study also found that DUI arrests decreased overall after Uber’s arrival, with the greatest reduction on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“We are proud that our technology and the drivers using our platform are able to provide a stress-free alternative to drinking and driving this holiday season. Through our partnership with the Governors Highway Safety Association to award states with Uber ride credits, we hope to give people greater access to transportation so that there is no excuse to get behind the wheel while impaired… As recent studies have shown, Uber can help reduce alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities and it is more important than ever to provide people with more options so they can plan ahead, make better choices and avoid drinking and driving.”

Kristin Smith, Head of Road Safety Policy at Uber

State highway safety offices will use the grant funds and Uber ride credits in the following ways:

  • The Colorado Department of Transportation will urge people hosting holiday gatherings to be the “Ultimate Party Host” by providing Uber credits and easy ways to share them with their guests, so they get home safely. The state will promote the campaign at local liquor stores in Denver and El Paso counties, which are among the highest in the state for DUI citations.
  • In Connecticut, the Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office will complement a significant enforcement and English and Spanish public outreach campaign with the “Save the Night CT” program, which will offer residents discounted Uber rides as a reward for choosing not to get behind the wheel impaired. The state will promote this message on social media to 18-34-year-olds, as well as at various locations across the state including bars and restaurants, concert venues, arenas, and stadiums – reaching a large audience in locations where alcohol is frequently consumed.
  • The Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office will use a comprehensive statewide campaign as a call to action for drivers to plan ahead to ensure they have a sober ride home. The “Be the Make a Plan Driver” initiative will provide $10 Uber ride discounts to all Marylanders starting November 24, 2021 through January 1, 2022.
  • The New Mexico Department of Transportation will offer Uber ride credits through its statewide impaired driving campaign, “ENDWI,” to incentivize holiday party attendees to opt for a responsible ride home. From mid-November through New Year’s Day, the state will conduct a “Winter Superblitz” campaign combining high visibility enforcement with radio, television, social media and outdoor messaging in both English and Spanish.
  • The Texas Department of Transportation will supplement high visibility enforcement by partnering with alcohol retailers to promote Uber rides in the Harris County/Houston area, which has the highest concentration of impaired driving fatalities in the state. As part of its multi-pronged statewide campaign, “Ride Sober. No Regrets.”, the state will also activate its partner network on social media to amplify the availability of Uber holiday ride credits. The goal is to reach more than 500,000 people.

GHSA will share updates on state campaign activities funded by these grants on the association’s website and social media channels throughout the holidays.