State highway office promotes Uber to curb drunk driving

By: - November 23, 2021 11:11 am

The New Mexico Department of Transportation is offering $10 credits for trips booked through the rideshare app Uber through the Thanksgiving weekend. (Photo by Getty Images)

Residents of the Albuquerque metro area can get a discounted price on trips booked through the ridesharing app Uber today through the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.

The “Take a Ride on Us” program offers 2,500 people an Uber credit of up to $10 and one ride per person. The program started Monday and continues through 3 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 29.

To redeem the $10 Uber credit, enter the code THANKS2021 in the Uber app.

The credit does not cover tips for drivers and there are no refunds for trips that cost less than the $10 credit. 

The code does not work with Uber Eats.

The marketing effort is funded by impaired driving prevention grants from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), a D.C.-based nonprofit representing state and territorial highway offices.

The grant to New Mexico totalled $20,000, according to the state’s Department of Transportation.

The state’s messaging about the coupons are framed as a way to keep Bernalillo County residents safe during Thanksgiving celebrations where people are expected to consume alcohol. DOT Secretary Mike Sandoval expressed concern about ‘Blackout Wednesday’ the eve of Thanksgiving, which he called a dangerous trend encouraging heavy drinking.“Drunk driving is a real threat in our communities, and that threat increases during the holidays,” he said in a news release. “Driving under the influence is deadly and illegal. Drivers must celebrate responsibly.”

In response to a request for more information, department spokesperson Marisa Maez forwarded a news release from the GHSA that cites a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study looked at rideshare and hospital data in Houston, Texas, after Uber first launched there in 2014. It found injuries associated with motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) decreased by 23.8% on Friday and Saturday nights, when those kinds of injuries were most common.

However, the researchers wrote that the study’s findings are limited and cannot be applied generally because the data comes from only one city.

Other research has found no statistically significant relationship between rideshare apps and a decline in traffic fatalities, and some studies have found the opposite effect, where rideshare apps actually increased injuries and deaths related to traffic accidents.

The GHSA awarded a total of $95,000 in grants and Uber ride credits to highway safety offices in Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, New Mexico and Texas.

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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.