Virginia has been seeing a steady drop in alcohol-related fatalities over the past 5 years, and the Department of Motor Vehicles thinks the most recent drop may be due to ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
The stats from 2014 show that 251 people were killed in 7,666 crashes caused by drunk driving in Virginia. That number doesn’t include the over 5,000 people who were injured in these crashes. The data from 2015 that’s been recently released shows another decrease, with 195 alcohol-related deaths from 7,334 crashes.
It’s a significant decrease in deaths attributed to drunk driving in Virginia, and the advent of Uber and Lyft could very well be one of the reasons why. Both companies received permanent legal status allowing them to operate in the state back in February 2015, and the promotion of the companies as a safe way home after you’ve been drinking could mean someone doesn’t make the choice to drink and drive.
There are also a few other reasons why there could be a decrease in drunk driving in Virginia:
- Virginia has an all-offender ignition interlock law. In place since 2012, first offenders in the state are required to install an ignition interlock if he or she has a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher, and all repeat offenders over .08 are required to use the device. Ignition interlocks stop first time drunk drivers from becoming repeat drunk drivers.
- Law enforcement have been focused on educating the public. Police are using new and creative ways to get people to think twice about drunk driving. Posting public mug shots on police Facebook pages is one way; relentless checkpoint stops every weekend are another.
Whatever the cause of the decrease, both the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the local police are happy to see the drop. With so many states seeing a constant increase in alcohol-related deaths, that drop is something all states should work toward.