Letters to the Editor

On the Fourth of July, Uber and MADD will fight drunk driving

This weekend, many Miamians will celebrate our nation’s independence with alcohol; too many of them will make the decision to drive drunk. Nationwide, the number of drunk-driving arrests and crashes spikes on July 4, and Miami is no exception.

But while we’re not trying to prevent adults from drinking on Independence Day, we can — and must — stop them from getting behind the wheel afterward.

New technologies like Uber, which launched in Miami last month, are putting alternatives to drunk driving right in the palms of our hands. Founded in 2009, Uber has a GPS-enabled smartphone app that allows riders to find safe, sober drivers in their neighborhood and request a pickup. There’s no need for cash, and rides are usually just a few minutes away.

It’s simple and convenient and it can help prevent drunk driving. Reviews of police records show that, when people live in a city that has embraced Uber, they’re less likely to drink and drive. According to Uber’s analysis, Seattle saw its DUI arrests decrease by 10 percent after Uber’s arrival.

With more than 10,000 drunk driving fatalities in 2012 alone, we need every tool in the toolbox to end drunk driving. That’s why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Uber are joining forces under #UberMADD, a partnership to prevent drunk driving and invest in safer communities. To kick it off, Uber is donating $1 to MADD for every ride taken between 6 a.m. July 4 and 6 a.m. July 5 using the promotion code “UberMADD.” And we’re giving $10 for every new rider.

When MADD was founded in 1980, the dangers of drunk driving were often considered to be an unavoidable, “normal” risk of being on the road. MADD changed that.

By shining a light on the victims behind every drunk-driving statistic, educating the public and fighting for strong laws and enforcement, MADD successfully helped pass laws establishing a national minimum drinking age and a .08 blood-alcohol content limit.

More recently, the organization has advocated for devices that require convicted drunk drivers to prove they are sober before they can start their cars. Thanks to their efforts, drunk-driving deaths have been cut in half in the last three decades.

These days it’s easy to think things have improved, but every single drunk-driving death is entirely preventable, and Uber is proud to join with MADD to be part of the solution.

MADD’s successes prove that change can happen, and everyone should continue supporting policies and innovations that can make a tangible difference in drunk driving rates.

Janet Mondshein, executive director, MADD Miami-Dade County

Rachel Holt, general manager, Uber, Sacramento, Calif.