A leading medical authority has issued a statement about the risks of driving fatigue within the ride sharing industry. Ride sharing, the general description of specific providers like “Uber” and “Lyft” is a quickly emerging industry that is revolutionizing the taxicab and limousine industry. Riders secure a car and driver through use of a smartphone app, which has pre-established credit card information. Through use of GPS location, the drivers locate a rider and respond. The proliferation of available drivers is intended to make rides easier to find, and drivers make a greater percentage of the applicable fare, thereby reducing reliance on tips. 

No Hours of Service Regulations

However, regulations that would limit driver hours have yet to be established, as those in the over-the-road trucking industry where driver hours are strictly limited. An article that fully explains the factors influencing driver fatigue can be found here. The fares are usually lower than a corresponding taxi fare, and even though drivers make a greater percentage of a given fare, there is still a large incentive to turn fares quickly, and most providers offer incentives to drivers once they reach certain thresholds. As in the trucking industry, where drivers earn more money the more they drive, ride sharing drivers push the envelope to work longer hours and during peak hours that do not always correspond to one’s natural sleep schedule. Accordingly, drivers are incentivized to work beyond their safety limits.  

Drowsy Driving Causes Accidents

Drowsy driving reportedly results in upwards of 300,000 crashes every year. Of those, over 6,000 result in fatalities. While some carriers require their drivers to take breaks, the limits do not necessarily correspond to the safe limits mandated by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Since many ride-sharing drivers work for multiple companies, or in many instances work other non-ride-sharing jobs, there is no way to monitor just how sleep deprived a given driver may be, even if he or she is within the prescribed limits of a given ride-sharing company. Hence, passengers and other drivers on the road are at risk of a collision with a sleepy driver who is truly incentivized to test the boundaries of his natural sleep cycles. While ride-sharing is increasingly common with folks who travel, or even for routine tasks such as going to the grocery store, many people now use ride sharing late at night rather than run the risk of driving while intoxicated. Such motivations are admirable, but safety is not promoted if an otherwise impaired passenger calls for a sleep-deprived, and equally impaired, driver. 

Who is Responsible For A Ride Sharing Accident?

When is a motor vehicle collision case not just a motor vehicle collision case? There are many special considerations unique to motor vehicle collisions involving ride sharing.  Who is responsible?  Is the ride sharing company responsible for the wrongful acts of drivers operating under the direction of Uber, Lyft or a host of other ride-sharing companies?  Are there special policies and procedures in place by the ride-sharing company? What are the unique issues related to insurance? In this emerging area, the typical motor vehicle accident attorney may not have all the information necessary to navigate the novel questions of ride-sharing liability. To learn more about how insurance applies in the event of a ride sharing accident, click here.

If you or a loved one has been victimized by a motor vehicle collision, especially one involves the more complicated issues of ride sharing, contact Monsees & Mayer, P.C.  We are on the cutting edge of this emerging area of personal injury law.