The Missouri Department of Transportation is partnering with Lyft to provide Missourians discounted rides this holiday season.
Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous holidays in the country, according to MoDOT. To reduce instances of impaired, distracted and dangerous driving, the department is partnering with Lyft to offer Missourians ride credits during evening hours of the holiday season.
Ride credits, available starting Wednesday, are worth $10 off a Lyft ride, said Jon Nelson, assistant to the state highway safety and traffic engineer. The campaign runs through New Years Day.
Discount codes for Lyft rides will be promoted on social media and in advertising in select areas of the state. Missourians may see the promotional code on bar screens, jukebox ads and outdoor digital ads, according to a MoDOT news release.
Advertisement of the code will likely stick to more urban areas of the state because media opportunities are more prevalent, Nelson said. But the code can be used by anyone in Missouri as long as it is during active hours (from "dinner time" to the "early morning hours," according to Nelson).
"I think one of the concerns we have, in addition to just the increased number of vehicles on the roadway, is that this is also a time of year where people will socialize and go out, and may go to a family gathering, work gathering, whatever it may be, and indulge in some beverages or other substances," Nelson said. "So we're just trying to raise awareness for people to make a plan to never find themselves in a situation where they have to drive impaired."
The department is paying for the discount codes with a $20,000 grant it received from the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, Lyft and the Governor's Highway Safety Association. Missouri is one of four state's sharing $80,000 in total grant funding intended to curb impaired driving this holiday season.
More than 800 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes around the Thanksgiving holiday from 2016 to 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In Missouri alone, 12 people were killed and 61 were seriously injured during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend last year.
"Tragedies like these are almost always preventable, and there are easy, simple actions we can all take to end them," Nelson said. "Buckle up, put down your phone, slow down and never drive impaired. It only takes one bad decision, sometimes in a split second, to destroy a life. Do your part, and let's enjoy this Thanksgiving with zero traffic fatalities."
MoDOT estimates the ride-share campaign could help prevent thousands of Missourians from driving impaired this holiday season, according to a news release from the Governor's Highway Safety Association.
Nelson said he doesn't have a firm expectation for how many motorists might use the discount code. "We don't really know for sure," he said. "Certainly our expectation is to fully utilize the entire amount of the grant that we received ... Just doing the math you're talking 1,500-plus rides that we would expect Missourians to participate in."
MoDOT has the ability to adjust ride discount rates and when the code can be activated, which Nelson said could be a possibility depending on uptake.
"We don't really want to burn through it in the first week," he said. "So we're going to start it out as a $10 discount and we'll kind of monitor and go from there."
There have been 898 traffic deaths so far this year in Missouri, according to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety.