Public Transit’s Impact on Drunk Driving
Earlier last week, Paul Wiedefeld, a man you have probably never heard of, made waves among DC Council members and owners of local businesses. Why? Because Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s general manager suggested that the rail system be closed earlier on weekends so that the track could be properly maintained and other repairs could be made.
It makes sense from the standpoint of railway workers. Being able to start working on the tracks at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays instead of 3 a.m. would mean getting home earlier. Closing at 10 p.m. instead of midnight on Sundays would mean the same. That said, Wiedefeld’s suggestion will be hard pressed to make it to reality.
Not only do business owners fear that their nightly intake will take a hit, but drunk-driving researchers worry that closing the Metro earlier than normal would mean one less safe way home for those who have been out on the town. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, people are four times more likely to be involved in an alcohol-related crash at night. Furthermore, almost 40 percent of accidents involving drunk drivers occur on Friday and Saturday nights.
Researchers tracked the impact that the Metro had on drunk driving when they began running later back in the early 2000s. It was discovered that DUIs decreased by 9 percent for each additional hour of late night serve that the trains provided. People wonder if taking the service away will have the opposite effect.
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