The Austin Police Department has had an ever-changing answer to a simple question: How many drunken driving wrecks did the city have in 2014? The number provided last fall was 454, indicating an astonishing 23 percent drop in such crashes from the prior year, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Uber and Lyft, which officially launched here in 2014, cited it as proof the ride-hailing services made Austin’s streets safer.
Then, just days before the highly charged May election on the city’s new ride-hailing rules, the American-Statesman discovered the police had recalculated the 2014 figure to 523, slashing the drop in such crashes to 12 percent. And then, days after the defeat of the Proposition 1 rules favored by Lyft and Uber, police disclosed it had recalculated the figure in response to the Statesman’s questions. This time, the department came up with 483 drunken driving crashes for 2014, suggesting a 17 percent drop. “The bottom line: We made a mistake,” said the manager of police statistics.