This week sees Thanksgiving, the start of the holiday season in the US, and traditionally a time of road travel mixed with social events throughout December in the run-up to Christmas.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has joined up with ride-hail provider Lyft and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) to offer a creative way of ensuring that driving under the influence of alcohol is discouraged.
Instead, drivers in four US states who have over-indulged are being encouraged to keep their car keys in their pockets over the holiday season: Colorado, Maryland, Missouri and Texas State Highway Safety Offices have been awarded a total of $80,000 in grants.
The money will be used to support initiatives promoting ride-hailing rather than driving. Research continues to point to a correlation between an increase in ride-hail usage and a decrease in drunk drivers. One recent analysis, examining 20 prior studies, found that 85% of them linked ride-hailing to a lower level of alcohol-impaired driving.
The four states will provide Lyft ride credits to encourage people who consume alcohol or other impairing substances to leave the driving to others.
Traditionally, the holiday season is one of the most dangerous times on the road due to over-indulging revellers getting behind the wheel.
An estimated 11,654 people died in drunk driving crashes in 2020 – 32 people every day, or one every 45 minutes. Police-reported, alcohol-involved fatalities rose 5% in 2021 and remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.
All traffic fatalities are tragic,” said GHSA executive director, Jonathan Adkins. “But it is especially difficult to hear about drunk- and drug-impaired driving deaths, which we know are 100% preventable, during the holiday season.
“GHSA is thrilled to team up with two of our long-term partners – Lyft and Responsibility.org – to help states conduct innovative campaigns that not only highlight the danger of driving impaired, but also offer drivers an incentive for making the responsible choice.”
The GHSA is a non-profit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance programme management and promote best practices.
The four states receiving the grants will each put their own spin on their Lyft ride credit programme.
• Colorado Department of Transportation (CDoT) is launching its “Nothing Uglier than a DUI” ugly holiday sweater campaign. Offering a light-hearted approach to a serious topic, CDoT invites Coloradans to show their holiday spirit by sporting their seasonal sweaters and redeeming Lyft ride credits to get to and from their destinations safely.
• Maryland DoT Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office is building upon its ‘Be The Make A Plan Driver’ campaign, promoting the discounted rides through social media ads and organic postings. The statewide campaign urges drivers to plan ahead, so they have a sober ride home. Maryland will make available 4,000 ride credits, valued at $5 each, during weekends only, throughout the holiday season.
• Missouri DoT Highway Safety and Traffic Division will place ads and jukebox quizzes in select bars around the state to educate patrons about their responsibility to not drive if they are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Lyft ride credits will be offered to encourage patrons to take advantage of this safe transportation alternative.
• Texas DoT (TxDoT) is focusing its efforts on the greater Houston area, which has the nation’s highest number of impaired driving fatalities. TxDoT will use digital media to encourage a key demographic more likely to drink and drive to take advantage of 1,000 $20 Lyft ride credits that will be available during the campaign period. The credits can be accessed via a QR code that will be promoted through local media, influencers and various social media channels.
“Lyft is pleased to once again partner with GHSA to provide a reliable and responsible transportation alternative this holiday season,” said Kamillah Wood, Lyft’s director of community safety policy. “We’ve seen the positive impact ridesharing availability has on reducing impaired driving, and we’re proud to play a part in creating safer roads for these communities.”
“Responsibility.org is committed to eliminating impaired driving and keeping our roads safe for everyone,” said Darrin Grondel, the organisation’s VP, traffic safety and government relations. “We're pleased to continue our lifesaving work with GHSA and Lyft to supplement the number of ride-hailing credits available, prevent the number of impaired drivers and individuals who get in a car with an impaired driver, and make a difference by helping to keep ourselves and others safe this holiday season.”
GHSA will report on these state campaign activities throughout the holidays via the association’s website and social media channels.