Mothers Against Drunk Driving has weighed in on California Proposition 22, advocating for the measure. In an open letter posted to the MADD blog, and subsequently emailed by Uber to its users in California, the group’s president argues that exempting “gig economy” workers from state labor laws will keep rideshare services cheap and plentiful.
“Prop 22 will preserve rideshare services that help keep drunk and drug-impaired drivers off of our roads by providing a safe, reliable, convenient and affordable alternative to driving,” MADD National President Helen Witty wrote in the post. “Fewer rideshare drivers in California could mean more people choosing to get behind the wheel when they’re under the influence.”
That Prop 22 would make it financially undesirable to operate in California to the point that corporations might reduce service or possibly even leave the state entirely has been one of several central points in the $185 million Yes on 22 campaign funded by Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and DoorDash.
A joint analysis of Prop 22 by the UC Berkeley Labor Center, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, and Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics found that the estimated pay guarantee for rideshare drivers would be equivalent to a wage of $5.64 per hour; California minimum wage for employees will be $13 in 2021.
Uber and MADD have been partners for a number of years, arguing that access to ridesharing significantly reduces drunk driving accidents. One study in 2017 found that alcohol-related accidents dropped as much as 30 percent in sections of New York City were Uber was widely used, but other researchers are less confident of the link.
“We started thinking about this question when we came across several papers examining the effect of ride-sharing on drunk driving, and saw that they found relatively small (and sometimes statistically insignificant) effects,” Keith Teltser, a George State University professor told Slate. “Because ride-sharing-induced drinking could affect a broader range of outcomes of interest to researchers and policymakers, we felt it was important to start by directly studying the relationship between ride-sharing and alcohol consumption.”
Teltser’s team looked at data about alcohol consumption, rather than traffic accidents, and found a surprising correlation. Regions with more access to rideshare were associated with increases in overall drinking–and the correlation appeared strongest in regions like Los Angeles where public transit options are less robust and more individuals would otherwise be driving themselves. In extreme cases, his report estimates widespread, low-cost Uber service is linked to a jump in binge drinking of 17.5 to 21.8 percent.
Last year, New York City established new regulations on app-based drivers, even capping the total number of Uber and Lyft cars that could be on the road. In spite of the regulations, Uber and Lyft continue to operate in New York City, as do traditional taxis and other transportation options.
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