In a recently released a paper about the “sharing economy,” Free State Foundation President, Randolph May, and myself discussed the positive impact many new sharing companies have had on consumers. Yet, despite the innovative ideas and entrepreneurial activity generated by companies like Airbnb and Uber, some states and municipalities have attempted to restrict or ban their services. Often, these attempts are instigated by lobbying from hotel and taxicab companies which have lost profit to these new entrants.
The latest news comes from California, where a bill was recently voted on that would profoundly limit ridesharing services provided by companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. One State Senator voted in favor of the bill only to be arrested for drunk driving several hours later. While there is no serious data that shows that these new ridesharing services have caused a reduction in DUIs, a Washington Post story suggests that in areas where the service is legal, there is a negative correlation between ridesharing and DUIs. In other words, as ridesharing increases, DUI arrests decrease. It seems intuitive that allowing for more competition in the transportation market would lower prices and encourage potentially intoxicated individuals to share rides instead of driving.It is ironic that a politician who enjoys a few drinks would vote to restrict ridesharing services that could clearly benefit him.