Ride share companies like Uber and Lyft have been a life saver for many people who need to get somewhere but can’t due get there themselves due to having no car of their own, having a car with engine trouble, having too much to drink, or just not feeling comfortable driving in a city not familiar to them. Whatever the reason, many of us have depended on Lyft, Uber and other lesser-known ride share companies to get us safely to our destination for a very reasonable price.
But how safe is it, really, to get in the car with someone you know nothing about? It seems our parents’ warnings to never get in a car with strangers is a thing of the past, but putting all the obvious dangers aside, there’s one that may not be so obvious: Your Lyft or Uber driver may be too exhausted to drive and you, most likely, will not even know it.
Soaring Ride Sharing Statistics
With over 10 billion Uber rides alone having been taken by July 2018, and with approximately 50 million people having taken an Uber in 2018 so far, it’s clear to most of us that the ride share industry is a huge one that is not going away any time soon.
Even with all the bad publicity in the last couple of years that Uber has seen (accusations of sexual harassment permeating the company, sexual assault by drivers, and its self-driving feature that resulted in a pedestrian being killed in March 2018 in Arizona), millions of people are taking Ubers every day in the United States and other countries. Lyft, now available in Canada, is working on international growth, also, and will soon be available in other countries.
But, now we have the new problem of drowsy Lyft and Uber drivers and how to stop them from getting behind the wheel. Many people who need an Uber or Lyft are tired themselves, and may be under the influence of alcohol, so how are drowsy passengers supposed to notice drowsy drivers?
Drowsy Drivers Are Dangerous
We all know the hazards of distracted driving, but a lesser-known road hazard is drowsy driving. People who drive late at night for work or after work, people who are sleep deprived, people with certain health conditions, and people under the influence are just some of the drowsy drivers on our nation’s roadways each and every day.
Lyft and Uber drivers have other peoples’ lives in their hands, and, at the current time, there is no effective way to monitor their ability to drive passengers to their destinations safely and only while they’re well rested and alert.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), in February, Uber announced that it is requiring drivers to go offline for six straight hours after a total of 12 hours of driving time. Similarly, Lyft requires its drivers to take a six-hour break for every 14 hours of driving, but that doesn’t mean the ride sharing driver is home sleeping after those 12 or 14 hours of driving. He could be at another job, even driving for another ride sharing company, home caring for his children, or simply running errands.
At this time, there’s no way to monitor how drowsy your ride share driver is, and those of us who use Uber and Lyft have to take steps to make sure our driver is alert and in sufficient physical condition to drive us safely to our destination.
Tips to Avoid Riding with Drowsy Drivers
First, trust your gut. If something seems “off” about your driver, decline the ride. Engage your driver in a quick hello or conversation before entering the vehicle. You can tell a lot by making eye contact and hearing your driver speak. If you’re already in the car and notice your driver’s head bobbing or his eyelids look heavy, ask him to kindly pull over in a safe space like a store, restaurant, gas station, or police station and order another ride or call a friend or family member to come get you.
Second, understand how the ride share industry works, and realize that at “surge pricing” times and locations (late at night when the bars close, holidays, the nights before holidays, inclement weather, and areas notorious for high traffic), prices go up, and drivers tend to drive under less than desirable conditions. At these late hours and on holidays, they may have worked long hours, worked their other job, or might just be exhausted from driving in difficult conditions and traffic situations.
Third, check reviews of your drivers. Many people who use Uber and Lyft services give detailed reviews of their ride share experience. If a driver is available with anything less than great reviews, simply choose another driver. With so many options available these days in the ride share industry, there’s no reason to settle for a driver who doesn’t seem able to get you where you’re going safely.
If you were in a car accident while using a ride-sharing vehicle, you will need a personal injury attorney who handles these complex cases. There may be multiple parties responsible for your injuries, so please contact us for your free claim evaluation.