Drivers in Denver, Fort Collins, and Aurora see hundreds of rideshare drivers on the road. Rideshare drivers are identified by Uber or Lyft signs in their windows, often double-parked while dropping off passengers. Many of us also take advantage of the rideshare companies to go out for dinner and drinks without having to worry about parking or traffic. Unfortunately, there is an inherent risk of so many Uber and Lyft drivers constantly distracted by their phones to get around.
If you were involved in an accident with a rideshare driver, injured as a rideshare passenger, or suspect the other driver was distracted, contact an experienced Colorado auto accident lawyer who understands how to deal with the rideshare and insurance companies to get you the maximum compensation. The attorneys at accidentdenver.com will investigate your case, deal with Lyft or Uber and the insurance company after an injury accident in Colorado. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Distracted Driving Accidents in Colorado
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, distracted driving causes an average of 43 crashes every day in Colorado. In 2018, there were 15,673 crashes involving a distracted driver in Colorado. Distracted driving accidents include more than 9,000 rear-end crashes and 2,380 intersection-related accidents. Distracted driving is a nationwide problem.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every day in the U.S., there are more than 1,000 people injured in accidents involving a distracted driver. The rate of deaths involving distracted driving has increased, up from 3,092 in 2010 to 3,450 in 2016.
Common Types of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving involves anything that takes your attention away from driving. This includes visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. Most people think of using a phone as distracted driving, but there are other common types of distracted driving, including:
- Entering information into the phone,
- Tuning the radio,
- Lighting a cigarette,
- Moving items around,
- Adjusting the temperature controls,
- Looking at passengers,
- Wandering mind,
- Looking at something that fell on the floor of the vehicle,
- Adjusting the driver's seat or steering wheel,
- Looking at passengers in the rearview mirror,
- Eating while driving,
- Drinking while driving,
- Looking at a map app,
- Entering information into a rideshare app,
- Talking on the phone,
- Looking at social media,
- Playing games on the phone,
- Hunting for Pokemon,
- Finding a podcast or song on the phone,
- Looking at work emails,
- Plugging in a phone, and
- Other apps or phone use.
Simply reading a text message or sending a quick text may take the driver's eyes off the road for five seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 miles per hour.
Younger drivers are at a greater risk for distraction-related crashes. Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of fatal distracted driving accidents. In 2017, 9% of fatal teenage driver accidents involved distracted driving. Another risk factor for distracted driving is rideshare drivers.
Distracted Driving for Rideshare Drivers in Colorado
While the ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber like to talk about how safe they are, the very nature of ridesharing can introduce additional distracted driving risk factors for accidents and injuries. The inherent risks include distracted driving, spending so much downtime on the road, and drowsy driving.
Lyft and Uber drivers are required to use the rideshare app. Most drivers also use one or two other apps while driving, including mapping apps and music apps, such as:
- Google Maps
- Apple Maps
- Apple Music
When driving, rideshare drivers can also be distracted by driving in unfamiliar areas or talking to the riders. Any distraction can take the driver's attention away from safe driving, and multiple distractions can make driving even more dangerous.
A lot of rideshare driving involves driving in high-density areas, like the Denver airport, downtown Denver, Boulder, or Fort Collins. These areas can involve a number of other unpredictable drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and tourists wandering around.
Looking down at your phone while on a quiet street may not be as dangerous as looking down at your phone when pedestrians are walking across the street in front of you or a car making an airport pickup suddenly pulls over without signaling. During these pick-up and drop-off times, Lyft and Uber drivers may also be more likely to be using the rideshare app, taking their eyes off the road and increasing the risk of an accident.
The rideshare companies claim that drivers are supposed to use the app while the drivers are stopped, including accepting rides, picking up passengers, and ending a ride. However, the company is aware that drivers use the app while the vehicle is moving or in traffic.
Distracted Drivers on the Job
According to the CDC, workers who drive as part of their job are more likely to be in a hurry to reach their destination, think about work, drive while tired, and use a phone while driving. The CDC recommends employers ban all phone use while driving a company vehicle. However, Lyft and Uber do not only not ban phone use but they also require phone use as part of the ridesharing job.
The CDC also recommends employers require workers to pull over in a safe location to use the phone app. Lyft and Uber do not put any safeguards on the app use to limit the app usability until the vehicle is safely pulled over and not moving.
Fault in a Distracted Driving Accident
Liability in a car accident is generally based on negligence. Negligence is the breach of a duty of care that causes harm. Drivers share the road with other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. When a driver does not use reasonable care when operating a vehicle, it can cause injury or death to others.
Texting, looking at the phone, or entering in map coordinates takes the driver's eyes and attention off the road. If a driver is not looking at the road while driving and causes an accident, the driver may have negligently caused the accident by failing to exercise their duty of care.
Negligence can also be demonstrated through violating traffic laws, like speeding, running a red light, or failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Also known as “negligence per se,” negligence can be presumed when a driver violates a traffic law that causes an accident.
Colorado Distracted Driving Laws
Under Colorado Revised Statutes § 42-4-239, “A person shall not use a wireless telephone for the purpose of engaging in text messaging or other similar forms of manual data entry or transmission while operating a motor vehicle.”
The penalty for using a mobile device for texting or manual data entry is a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense and a fine of $300. If the use of a phone is the proximate cause of bodily injury or death, the penalty is a Class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense.
After a Distracted Lyft or Uber Driver is Involved in an Accident
After an accident with a Lyft or Uber driver, you may have seen the driver looking down right before the accident, giving you the idea that the driver was using a phone or otherwise distracted. Even if you suspect the driver was distracted, the Lyft of Uber driver is not likely to admit to using their phone at the time of the accident.
If the police or law enforcement responds to the accident, you may want to tell the investigating officer that you suspect the other driver was distracted at the time of the accident.
When reporting the accident to your insurance company, you should also let them know that you suspect the driver was using a phone or mobile device at the time of the accident.
If you file an auto accident claim against the other driver, talk to your attorney about the distracted driver. Your lawyer may be able to get ahold of phone and mobile provider records to show the driver was using the phone at the time of the accident. This information can be used to show the other driver was at fault for the accident and is liable for your injuries.
Insurance coverage for the rideshare driver is based on their rideshare activity at the time of the accident. Between making the app active and before picking up a rider, contingent coverage applies and Uber or Lyft must provide a minimum of:
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death to any one person in an accident; and
- $100,000 for bodily injury or death to all persons in any one accident
When the driver accepts a ride request, is on the way to pick up the passenger, or has the passenger in the vehicle, the insurance coverage is up to $1 million.
Ridesharing Accident Injury Lawyers
The attorneys at accidentdenver.com have successfully represented their clients and families in Denver who were involved in a car accident with Lyft and Uber drivers to get compensation for their losses. Our attorneys understand how the ridesharing and insurance companies operate and will fight to get the maximum compensation available for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.