One of the best ways to prevent drunk driving is to give people transit options so they don’t need to drive at all, argues Sommer Mathis at The Atlantic City Lab. But she says the benefits of avoiding drunk driving crashes is rarely cited as a reason to expand transit, using the MBTA as an example:
Politicians and policymakers all over the country have been hard at work in recent years convincing voters that investing in systems like light rail and bus rapid transit will reduce congestion, improve air quality, and spur economic development. But nowhere has anyone been making the case that giving people more and better options not to drive is a massive public safety issue.
Take Boston, for example. In one of America’s oldest cities, stuffed to the gills with thirsty college students, the MBTA only introduced late-night weekend service on the ‘T’ a couple of months ago. But the expanded service, part of a one-year pilot program, is not being billed not as a public safety initiative. Instead, as the Boston Globe reports, the ‘T’ will be monitoring whether the new hours “increase sales at local businesses, encourage restaurants close to T stations to stay open later, and make Boston’s convention centers more competitive in bringing high-profile events to the city.” That’s not to say economic goals can’t be put right alongside safety ones, of course, but saving lives has not, as yet, appeared to have entered the conversation.
The war on drunk driving, like the war on drugs, is far too limited to a “just say no” strategy. Even at one-time huge drinking festivals like New Bedford’s Portuguese Feast where temporary shuttle service could be provided cheaply and easily, instead everyone looks the other way.