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Another Voice: Ride-sharing services help keep college students safe

By Richard Mallow

As a parent, the day your child gets behind the wheel of a car can be a truly terrifying experience. You hope your child never gets behind the wheel after drinking, or gets into a car being driven by anyone who has. That fear never goes away, and it only grows worse when your child goes away to college.

That’s why it’s so important that we not only teach our children how to stay safe, but that we give them every opportunity to avoid this danger through smart, reliable and easy transportation alternatives like Uber and other ride-sharing services.

Unfortunately, unless you live and work in New York City, Uber is not an option – it is not allowed to operate in the many cities and counties of Long Island and upstate New York.

If you have a child going away to college in cities like Buffalo, Syracuse, Binghamton, Plattsburgh or Albany, your child will not be able to use services like Uber or Lyft because the state has failed to pass sensible legislation that would allow ride sharing outside of New York City.

Ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft provide the rare opportunity for our sons and daughters to leave their cars at home, knowing they can easily get back safely without needing to drive.

Throughout the country, 300,000 people drive drunk every day. That’s enough to fill up New Era Field four times over. Drunken driving affects everyone who shares the road. It wrecks lives, shatters families and puts communities and innocent bystanders at risk. And while, short of locking our children in their rooms, we will never be able to completely protect them from this danger, the state can do much more to ensure their safety by passing legislation to allow ride-sharing companies to operate across New York.

The data supports what we, as parents, already know – if kids have better options and access to transportation, they will make better choices. One study showed that drunken driving fatalities occur 5.5 percent less often in cities that have Uber. And a new survey showed that 88 percent of people over age 21 said Uber makes it easier to avoid driving home when they’ve had too much to drink. Companies like Uber are one way to reduce the risk of drunken driving by providing a safe and guaranteed option people can depend on.

None of us want our children to become a statistic, and that is why I implore the state to pass smart legislation that will enable innovative companies like Uber to operate throughout all New York cities.

Providing a safe transportation option for our children when they go away to school, and when they’re back home, should not be a political football. It should be the least we can do for New York families and, most importantly, our children.

Richard Mallow is executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) New York.

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