Drunk riding is a big problem with shared electric scooters. It’s just as illegal (and dumb) as drunk driving, but that hasn’t stopped scores of riders from engaging in the dangerous practice. And so now Bird is rolling out a new update that the company hopes will stump would-be inebriated scooter riders before they can rent an electric scooter and hit the road.
Bird is one of the largest electric scooter sharing companies in the world and is often at the forefront of advances in the shared mobility industry. Though this time they’re adding a feature that has been found on competitor Lime’s scooters for over two years: a drunk riding test.
Bird’s latest addition is called “Safe Start” and will become active between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.
As the company explained, between those hours, “riders attempting to unlock a Bird will now be asked to verify that they can safely handle the vehicle by correctly entering a keyword into the app. Those who may be under the influence are encouraged to choose an alternative method of transportation such as a taxi or ride-hailing service.”
You can see an example of how this would work in the graphics below, where a rider is requested to type the word “SAFE” into the app.
As you can tell, this isn’t exactly a Mensa-level puzzle, nor is it meant to be.
The goal is apparently to give people a moment to pause and reflect on whether they are actually under the influence while attempting to rent an electric scooter.
As Det. Lt. Mark Marquis of the Tiffin, Ohio, Police Department explained further:
“Sometimes all you need is that one reminder, that critical moment of deterrence, to change someone’s mind and prevent a potentially unsafe situation from taking place. Safe Start from Bird helps afford that moment by asking scooter riders to slow down, step back and think, ‘Do I really want to be taking a risk right now by operating a vehicle under the influence?’ Ultimately this is a step in the right direction towards keeping our streets safe and secure for everyone.”
It may be a step in the right direction, but frankly I would have liked to see the step go a bit further.
This won’t stop drunks from riding scooters, it will just stop reasonable drunk people from riding scooters. And those aren’t the people we’re mostly worried about.
As anyone who has ever sent or received a drunk text before surely knows, this isn’t much of a real barrier. It’s only going to stop anyone who is so intoxicated that they’ve lost use of their thumbs.
But it will at least serve as a brief reminder about the danger of drunk operation, and perhaps that reminder will be enough to actually take a number of dangerous riders off the road.
Hopefully, at least.
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