Thanksgiving Eve, which has also been called “Blackout Wednesday,” is one of the busiest drinking nights of the year. It also represents the beginning of the holiday season when there is a known increase in instances of impaired driving. BP Oddo, DA McMahon, MADD, and Uber are urging people to seek safe transportation options as they get together and celebrate the holidays.
The free rides are part of the “SI Safe Ride” initiative, which launched last year. Nearly 3,000 Staten Islanders participated in the initial promotion, which allowed users to get free rides on Thanksgiving Eve in an effort to combat drunk driving. Subsequent promotions took place on days when drunk driving incidences typically spike, including during the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“After our successes with this program throughout the past year, I’m pleased to be able to continue this initiative,” said BP Oddo. “If you plan on drinking this Thanksgiving Eve, please enjoy the night responsibly and leave your car at home. Thank you to DA McMahon, MADD, and Uber for helping us give Staten Islanders a safe transportation option on Thanksgiving Eve.”
“Far too often on Staten Island people make the irresponsible and possibly deadly choice to drive after a night of drinking; I see it because we prosecute them every day. After the unmitigated success of last year’s SI Safe Ride initiative where thousands of Staten Islanders made the smart choice and left the keys at home on Thanksgiving Eve, Super Bowl Sunday, and Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day, Borough President Oddo and I are thrilled to once again offer this initiative to Staten Islanders. We encourage everyone heading out this Thanksgiving Eve to take advantage of this promotion, enjoy a great night responsibly, and avoid meeting one of my prosecutors after a night in jail,” said DA McMahon.
“We are proud to support the Borough President’s efforts to raise awareness about the risk of driving under the influence and to help ensure Staten Island residents have a reliable ride home while out celebrating,” said Brian Hughes, General Manager, Uber NY. “As the Holiday season approaches, the need for more safe transportation options is more pronounced than ever, and Uber always strives to arm people with more options when hitting the road.”
“The holiday season is a special time for joy and togetherness, but it’s also the one of the most dangerous times of the year on the road because of the increased frequency of drunk driving,” said Richard Mallow, Executive Director of MADD NY. “We applaud the Borough President, District Attorney and Uber for raising awareness about DUIs and for providing a safe, reliable ride for Staten Island residents."
In 2003, Oddo and McMahon, then City Council Members, sponsored “Operation Arrive Alive,” a similar, though low-tech initiative that relied on bartenders to call a cab for patrons who requested one. The 2018 version is different in that it allows patrons themselves to summon an Uber in the way they are accustomed to.
Each trip has a maximum value of $15. If a ride costs more than $15, riders will receive that much as a credit and will be responsible for the remaining money due.
Uber has been proven to help reduce drunk driving across America. For example, DUI arrests in Seattle decreased by more than 10% after Uber started serving riders and drivers in the city, according to a recent study. A recent independent study conducted by Temple University found cities where Uber operates have 3.6%-5.6% fewer drunk driving deaths than cities without access to ridesharing.
A report by Uber and MADD concludes that when empowered with more transportation options like Uber, people are making responsible choices that result in fewer alcohol-related crashes.