Officials in Birmingham are hoping the ride-sharing company Uber – and others like it – could help reduce the number of DUI arrests, crashes and related injuries and deaths in the city.
For those who have not been to a city where Uber is currently operating, a brief description of how the service works might be helpful. People can download an app the Uber company has created for their smartphones. Once you have an Uber account, you can add one or more credit cards into the system, so it is ready to use when needed.
When a person wants a ride home or to any other location, they can load the app and request a ride. The person usually has a choice of whether they want a traditional “black car” luxury sedan, like ones generally taken to the airport, a taxicab, or an UberX, which is late model privately-owned vehicle being driven by a person who has signed on to drive with Uber. Basically, when you request a ride, all nearby drivers have an opportunity to agree to pick you up and take you to your destination. The company handles all payments, including a tip, and you do not have to have any money in your pocket to pay the driver.
Additionally, every rider gets an opportunity to rate all drivers, and their vehicles must be new and clean. The price of the Uber ride is dependent upon traffic, how many people are using the system at one time and the type of vehicle a person requests. For example, a luxury SUV will cost more than an economy sedan.
As our Birmingham drunk driving defense attorneys understand, this has helped cut down on the number of DUI arrests across the country in cities that have the service because it is more convenient than other modes of transportation around the time bars close.
According to a recent news article from AL.com, Birmingham city officials are pushing for the service to come to our area to cut down on the number of total DUI arrests and drunk driving accidents. What is interesting about this is in many other places around the county the service has to fight its way into the market and make significant compromises to be authorized to operate in an area. This is due to the service’s unpopularity with certain sectors that often have influence in local politics.
One of the fears about ride-sharing services operating in a city are that the drivers are not required to carry any additional insurance than private drivers, and they do not have to undergo any training, like taxi drivers must do. The taxi drivers and owners of cab companies also tend to the see the service as unfair competition, and this can lead to a push to keep the service out of a city or town.
Reducing DUI arrests is only one of the reasons city officials want the service, and that reason may be more of a justification that is the primary focus of a new ride-sharing ordinance. Tourists, more than local residents, will generally rely on taxis. Taxis that are old, smell bad, and do not have working air conditioning is not good for tourism. Tourists across the country have raved about how nice it is to get a ride in a clean, new, air-conditioned vehicle, from a driver who is not allowed to play the radio unless asked by a rider, and is not allowed to talk on his or her phone while a passenger is in the car, even on a hands free device.