Crash and arrest statistics show a noticeable decrease in alcohol related crimes in Jacksonville since the operation of ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.
For just over three years, ride sharing companies have been free to operate in the city of Jacksonville.
Numbers First Coast News obtained from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office show an average of 1,655 were arrested for DWIs each year from 2011 to 2013. From 2014-2016, the average number arrested has dropped to 1,236, 25% lower than the three previous years.
Alcohol related crashes have also decreased. JSO statistics show an average of 1,114 alcohol related crashes in 2012 and 2013. From 2014 to 2016, an average 948 alcohol related crashes were reported, 14 percent less than previous years.
Determining the exact cause for this decrease would be nearly impossible, and a national study done by American Journal of Epidemiology refutes Uber's boasts that drunk driving numbers are down in many cities where they now operate.
Advocate for victims of drunk driving collisions Carl Harms of JaxImpact said the decrease could be for many reasons.
"We have free rides in Fleming Island, Tow To Go that has a schedule, Farah and Farah has constantly gone out on New Year's Eve and paid for your taxi to go home," said Harms. "There are other options here, there is a raise of awareness, but the problem still is that one [DUI] is too many."
Harms said hit and run crashes would not be included in the alcohol related statistics, despite the possibility that those drivers could have been intoxicated.
On Feb. 22, a bill passed through the Florida House committee which could make it easier for transportation network companies to operate statewide.
An Uber representative said in a statement to First Coast News:
We’ve seen again and again that when people have a reliable, affordable and accessible alternative to get home safe, they choose not to drink and drive. With Uber, no matter where you are or what time it is, a designated driver is just a tap on your phone away. Uber has been proud to partner with Mothers Against Drunk Driving as it’s official designated driving app to help raise awareness of drunk driving and make our roads safer.