MADD Weighs in on California Proposition 22

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has come out this past week in support of California Proposition 22. In a letter posted to the organization’s website, MADD National President Helen Witty stated that exempting “gig workers,” such as Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare app drivers, from state law designating them “employees” rather than independent contractors keeps rideshare services affordable and available.

In 2019, the California legislature passed AB5 which designated rideshare drivers as employees. As employees, rideshare companies would have to provide certain employment benefits such as minimum wage, overtime, expense reimbursement, paid sick days, paid family leave, unemployment insurance and an employer health care option.

While Uber and Lyft maintained that their employees were independent contractors, a judge ruled in August that the companies were in violation of AB5. The ruling threatened “hundreds of thousands” of job cuts and the suspension of operations in California. Importantly for MADD, it meant less alternatives to driving when a person has had one too many to drink.

If passed, Prop. 22 would exempt rideshare companies from treating their drivers as employees, and drivers would maintain their independent contractor status.

Supporters of Prop. 22 argue that an exemption from treating drivers as employees would keep rides inexpensive and readily available to travelers. Uber has said that up to 76% of its 209,000 California drivers could be cut if the company is forced to comply with the stricter law, and that prices could increase 25-111%.

“Prop. 22 will preserve rideshare services that help keep drunk and drug-impaired drivers off of our roads by providing a safe, reliable, convenient and affordable alternative to driving,” wrote Witty. “Fewer rideshare drivers in California could mean more people choosing to get behind the wheel when they’re under the influence.”

Opponents of the measure argue that maintaining the independent contractor status for drivers is exploitative.

MADD and Uber have pointed to a number of studies over the past few years that have suggested ridesharing companies, in providing an alternative to driving when drunk, have reduced the number of DUI’s and DUI-related accidents.

Other researchers are not as sure. Some argue that the data suggests ridesharing apps have not reduced drunk driving, but have actually increased binge drinking in areas of high rideshare usage.

I urge you to do your own research on the benefits and drawbacks of passing Prop. 22 before deciding to vote for or against it.

However, while I think it’s fair to say MADD and I have not always seen eye-to-eye, we finally agree that the more alternatives to driving drunk there are available to the public, the better.

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