Ride sharing: police chief and lecturer weigh in

Claire Voltarel, Campus Carrier News Editor

luckily he has the full photo for a better perspective
Sean Mulhulland (above) found DUI’s and fatal accidents on the decline in cities with Uber; however, motor vehicle thefts rose. Photo by Ethan Barker | Campus Carrier

On Sept. 25, Sean Mulholland of Western Carolina University presented his research to the Berry community on the effects Uber has had on drunk driving, fatal accidents and crime as a whole. His lecture “Permissionless Innovation: Ride-sharing, Fatal Crashes and Crime” discussed innovations which are designed overcome a difficulty without regulation or institutional permission, but for the sake of bettering society.

“We are insatiably curious,” Mulholland said. “We want to change the world to make it better.”

With this theory in mind, Mulholland focused specifically on Uber as a ride-sharing service, which answered a demand to get to and from destinations without the hassle of public transportation. Along with colleagues, he analyzed data from cities from 2010 -2015 which originally did not have Uber and recently adopted the service, and compared his data to that of the years before the program. Within these cities, his results showed a decline in fatal crashes, driving under the influence (DUIs) and disorderly conduct offenses after adopting Uber; there was no change on all other crimes, except for motor vehicle theft, which presented a slight increase.

According to a Pew Research survey in 2015, 18 to 29 year-olds made up the largest group of ride-sharing passengers at 28 percent, mainly consisting of young adults and college graduates. Moreover, the study also found that 10 percent of this age group uses services like Uber on a daily or weekly basis.

Rome has yet to realize the full effects of these services. Currently, there is only one active Uber driver in the Rome area, while there are 17 colleges in Northwest Georgia.

However, Berry’s Chief of Police Jonathan Baggett says Berry rarely experiences drunk driving incidents and continues to take caution when alcohol is involved.

While Baggett recognizes the positive impacts Uber can have, he said he has faith in the Berry community to maintain its policies and stay safe.

“Berry students over the years have always done a good job of having a designated driver and that shows in the fact that we don’t make a lot of DUI arrests,” Baggett said.

According to the 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, of the 72 referrals for alcohol violations, there were no arrests made. In the past, Baggett estimates two to three instances of DUI’s per year on campus at the most.

Even after a safe ride home, students returning to campus under the influence are still subject to charges according to Berry’s alcohol and drug use policy. But Baggett said these instances only occur if the student causes a disturbance or violates other campus policies, or is seen by a resident assistant in which case the issue is resolved through Residence Life. To avoid any conflict, Baggett suggested that students come back to campus safely and peacefully.

“If they are responsible and not causing any problems, chances are no one will even know they were drinking,” Baggett said.

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