Uber has been operating since 2009. Lyft has been the other major rideshare operator since 2012. Over the years, a lot of safety issues have come up with ride-sharing. Lyft and Uber claim they are addressing the problem but some people still refuse to use the ride-sharing companies out of concerns over their safety and security.
It is important to understand the risks involved in getting into a Lyft or Uber driver's vehicle without knowing anything about the person. Some of the risks can be mitigated by taking action before, during, and after the ride. If something does happen and you are injured or assaulted during or after an Uber or Lyft ride, you should be compensated for your losses.
If you were injured in an accident while using a ride-share service, talk to a lawyer about your rights. The attorneys at accidentdenver.com will investigate your case and work to get you the maximum compensation after an injury accident in Denver, Boulder, or anywhere in Colorado. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Wrongdoing by Ride-Share Drivers
Ride-share drivers use Lyft and Uber to make money picking up and dropping off passengers. The passengers and drivers use the phone app to call the ride, arrange the pick up, and handle payment after the ride. In many ways, the ride-share driver is just like any other person off the street, generally having a valid driver's license and insurance. Unfortunately for passengers, there are also certain risks that may be higher for rideshare drivers compared to regular drivers.
Accidents Caused by Rideshare Drivers
The most common source of injury for rideshare passengers involves a car accident. A car accident involving Lyft or Uber may be the driver's fault, another driver's fault, or fault of another party. When the accident is caused by the Lyft or Uber driver, some of the more common causes of the accident are due to:
- Distracted driving using the app or maps
- Distracted driving by looking for passengers
- Rideshare driver inexperience
- Drowsy driving
- Traffic violations
- Impaired driving
Distracted Driving Using the Rideshare App or Maps
Distracted driving is one of the inherent risks of using a rideshare company. Drivers are required to have the ridesharing app on their phone and use it to accept, pick up, and drop off riders. Almost all Lyft and Uber drivers also use map apps on their phone (Google Maps, Waze, or Apple Maps. Some drivers are also busy finding and playing music using their phone or vehicle entertainment system, taking more attention away from the road.
Rideshare drivers are using the rideshare app and map app before, during, and after a ride. Each time the driver looks down at their phone, they are taking their eyes off the road. Anytime the driver is entering something on the phone, they are taking a hand off the wheel of the car. Anything that requires the driver's mental attention takes the driver away from their driving tasks.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), any use of a mobile phone while driving may increase the risk of a crash. Lyft and Uber may tell their drivers to enter any information before starting the ride. However, the rideshare companies are aware the drivers are using their phones during the ride.
Distracted Driving by Looking for Passengers
Another risk that is more associated with rideshare drivers is the distraction of looking around for a place to pull over, trying to identify passengers, and looking for a place to drop off the passenger. Looking out the side window means the driver is taking their attention away from what is ahead and to the other side. Distracted driving before picking up the passenger may not be a risk to the passenger but it may be a risk for other drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians.
Rideshare drivers who are looking for a drop-off point with a passenger in the car may put the passenger at risk of an accident. Some careless Lyft or Uber drivers may pull over suddenly in front of another vehicle, risking a neck injury for the driver and passenger. The driver may also be looking for a place to pull over and not notice that traffic has stopped, rear-ending a vehicle in front.
Rideshare Driver Inexperience
There are few requirements for Lyft and Uber drivers to get approved. For Uber, the minimum requirements include, “have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the US (3 years if you are under 23 years old).” This means someone can be tasked with picking up and dropping off passengers who do not know the driver's experience level after one year of having a license, even if the driver has less than 5 miles of driving experience.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 91,000 motor vehicle crashes involving drowsy driving in 2017. Drowsy driving for rideshare drivers often occurs when the driver is already working a full-time job and is using Uber or Lyft to supplement their income. Many rideshare drivers also operate when there is a higher risk of drowsy driving, late in the afternoon or between midnight and 6 a.m.
Some rideshare drivers commit traffic violations while distracted, including running a red light, failing to yield for pedestrians, or failure to yield the right of way. Some Lyft and Uber drivers are not even aware of the traffic laws because they did not get their driver's training in Colorado and came from out of state. Traffic violations that cause an accident unnecessarily put others at risk of injury.
The more trips a Lyft or Uber driver can make, the more money they get. Lyft and Uber even have incentives to get bonus pay for things like completing more trips in a set time period or completing a series of consecutive trips without taking a break. This can cause drivers to speed or commit other traffic violations to make more money, putting passengers and drivers at risk of an injury.
Violence or Sexual Assault by Rideshare Drivers
One of the most worrying aspects of getting into a stranger's car is the threat of violence or sexual assault. According to Uber, there were 3,045 reports of sexual assaults in the U.S., just in 2018. While Uber or Lyft claim they had no warning that the drivers would be dangerous, some people with criminal records were still approved to drive for the rideshare companies.
Steps to Protect Yourself While Using Lyft or Uber
There will always be some risk of injury or harm while using Lyft or Uber. Any car or vehicle on the road can be involved in an accident, injuring the passenger or driver inside. There may also be some risk of injury directly by the driver. However, there are ways to protect yourself before, during, and after a Lyft or Uber ride in Colorado.
Protect Yourself Before the Ride
The most important thing to understand before you get a ride is to understand the risks. Even though Lyft and Uber claim to do a thorough safety check, background check, and driver's record check, these checks may miss something. You do not know the driver and you do not know the driver's safety record.
When possible, ride with another person. If you are riding alone, make sure a friend or family understands your travel plans.
Try waiting for your ride in a place that is well lit, and there is a safe area for the driver to pull over. After requesting your ride, note the vehicle type and license plate and driver's name. Make sure the vehicle and license plate match the vehicle you are getting into. You should also have the driver confirm your name. Get in the back seat and put your seatbelt on before the vehicle pulls away. If there is trouble with your seatbelt, ask the driver to wait until you are properly secured.
Protect Yourself During the Ride
During the ride, keep your seatbelt secure. Stay aware of your surroundings during the ride. Make sure you know where you are and where you are going. If the driver takes a different route, you can tell them the route you want to take.
On the ride, you can share your trip status in the app that shares your driver's information and location. The person you share the trip with should get a notification of your trip and estimated time of arrival.
If you feel like something is wrong or the driver is taking you somewhere you do not want to go, call 9-1-1. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Protect Yourself After the Ride
After the ride, you can also report unsafe driving or problems with the driver that made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Many people who experience unsafe driving just accept it as a risk of riding with Uber or Lyft. However, reporting the event can help protect others from dangerous driving. You can report a driver through the app.
Injured After a Lyft or Uber Ride in Colorado
If you were injured in a Lyft or Uber accident, contact accidentdenver.com. Our experienced rideshare accident attorneys will fight to get the maximum compensation available for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.