July 24, 2018 3:00 pm
Updated: July 25, 2018 12:40 am

Mothers Against Drunk Driving call on B.C. to allow ride-hailing now

WATCH: There is even more pressure on the NDP government to stop delaying a decision on ride-hailing in B.C. As Ted Chernecki reports, critics say the government is being hypocritical by asking people to make responsible choices, and then restricting their options.

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Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has a message for the B.C. government: Bring ride-hailing to the province now.

The advocacy group held a press conference Tuesday to apply pressure to the NDP government to move more quickly in updating laws that would allow for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in B.C. as they do in other jurisdictions.

“Ridesharing is a safe, reliable option that should be available to all the people of British Columbia,” MADD Canada B.C. director Tracy Crawford said.

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“It is very frustrating from our perspective because having more transportation options available is crucial for reducing impaired driving. Ridesharing would complement the existing taxis and public transit by adding another option.”

READ MORE: Ride-hailing not coming to British Columbia until fall of 2019

The B.C. government announced last week that the target is to have ride-hailing services by the fall of 2019. The NDP promised during the 2017 election campaign to have services in B.C. by Christmas 2017. The former government also struggled to implement services, but did have proposed legislation in place before losing power.

According to MADD, most impaired driving incidents happen at night and during the weekend when taxi services are in high demand and public transit options are reduced.

WATCH: Big endorsement for B.C. ridesharing by anti-drunk driving group

Researchers at Temple University in the United States compared rates of alcohol-related crash deaths in cities before and after Uber was available. While numerous factors affect impaired driving trends, findings from this research conclude that the arrival of Uber in a city led to a 3.6 per cent to 5.6 per cent decrease in the number of people killed in alcohol-related car crashes.

“Driving impaired should never be anyone’s choice. But all too often people still do it. Having more safe and reliable transportation options available to people is a crucial way we can stop impaired riding and reduce injuries.” Crawford said. “It’s an option that should be available now.”

READ MORE: A new push for ride-hailing in Metro Vancouver

The B.C. government is working to modernize the taxi industry, while also updating legislation that would make it easier for ride-hailing companies to operate. As part of the modernization, the province has committed to approving licences for 500 new taxis, consisting of 300 in Metro Vancouver and 200 outside Metro Vancouver.

WATCH HERE: NDP government delays ride sharing again

But there are concerns beyond drunk driving, including long lines of people waiting for taxis or unable to access public transit late at night when the bars close in downtown Vancouver.

“Providing more options for British Columbians to get to and from areas like Vancouver’s Granville Street will help improve safety on our streets,” said Curtis Robinson, chair of BarWatch. “It creates a lot of unnecessary tension when you have large numbers of people who have been drinking stuck in one area, unable to get home. Bringing ridesharing to B.C. will help get people home safely, faster.”

READ MORE: Taxi companies pitch plan to keep ride-hailing companies out of Metro Vancouver

Metro Vancouver mayors have struggled with the issue of ride-hailing as well. Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart has advocated for increased services and says it is hypocritical to tell potential drunk drivers to choose another option home when governments aren’t making all those options available.

“We keep asking them to make the responsible choice and yet we restrict, for some reason, the choices that are available to them… we have very limited options that are available at the late time zone. It is the time we need as many options as possible and that is the time when people get behind the wheel of the car sometimes because they perceived no other option.”

The province has cited various reasons for delays in implementing the services including passenger safety, proper insurance for ride-hailing drivers, protecting the current taxi industry and options for accessible rides.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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