By: Allan M. Siegel
The safety of customers and the public should be among the highest concerns
for any business, especially those involved in the transportation industry.
In an effort to address these issues, Uber – one of the most popular
rideshare services connecting smart phone app users to available rides
– has announced a nationwide update that will mandate a six-hour
rest period for frequent drivers.
According to Uber, the update is expected to roll out nationally over a
two-week period. Here are a few details about what it entails:
- After a driver has been behind the wheel for 12 cumulative hours, the update
will require them to take at least a six hour break before they are able
to access the app and transport customers for a fee.
The update will include warning notifications for frequent drivers, including
a warning after 10 hours of uninhibited driving, a second warning after the 11th hour, and a third and final notification for a 30-minute warning.
- The updated app will use GPS and telematics to measure driving time and
detect when vehicles being used as Ubers are in motion. Short waiting
periods while the app is on, as well as stops at stop lights or in congested
traffic, will count against a worker’s driving time.
The update is being made in an effort to prevent drowsy driving, which
numerous studies have reported to be as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact,
one study from the AAA Foundation for traffic safety reported that driving with
four to five hours of sleep – something many busy Americans are
guilty of – is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content
level at or above the legal limit. Even missing just one or two hours
of sleep in a single night can significantly increase a driver’s
risk of crashing. Drowsy driving and its dangers have motivated many advocates
and lawmakers to call for better laws, including regulations that address
the issue for drivers of commercial trucks.
A Positive Step that Still Falls Short
Although the new update is a step in the right direction, it is still woefully
inadequate when it comes to addressing drowsy driving and the immense
dangers posed by driver fatigue. This is due to several reasons:
Not all hours are accounted for – Although the update will prevent drivers from working for too
many hours, it will not account for all hours worked. That’s because
it doesn’t track longer waits, such as when a vehicle idles for
more than 5 minutes or waits in long lines like those at airports. These
wait periods still mean a driver is awake, and that their total “on-duty”
time can exceed 12 cumulative hours.
Drivers who work for other rideshare services – Many drivers who work for Uber also work for Lyft or other rideshare
services, such as those that deliver products or meals to customers. Although
the update may prevent an Uber driver from accessing the app until their
six-hour rest period expires, it does not prevent them from simply transitioning
over to a new app and transporting fares or operating their vehicles long
after being behind the wheel for 12+ hours. It also doesn’t account
for drivers who may still operate a motor vehicle during the rest period
for personal matters, or for other jobs.
Not enough rest – Although mandatory rest breaks are important, they still need
to address the issue at hand. A six-hour break after 12 hours of driving
is simply not enough time to ensure a driver is well rested. Even if a
driver were to sleep for the entire 6-hour period (which is unlikely),
they would still be more likely to crash than drivers who slept 8 or more
hours, according to the AAA study. The update also fails to address the
amount of time workers are permitted to drive on a longer or weekly basis
– which can create substantial crash risks due to chronic fatigue
and lack of adequate sleep.
When you compare Uber’s new mandated rest period to other similar
regulations in the transportation industry, you quickly see how inadequate
it is. Commercial truck drivers, for example, are required to abide by
much more strict Hours-of-Service regulations enforced by the Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These HOS rules impose an
11-hour driving limit for cargo-carrying vehicles and a 10-hour driving
limit for passenger carriers AFTER 10 or 8 consecutive hours off duty
– much more than the six-hour Uber rest period. They also now require
commercial drivers to record their hours on duty and behind the wheel
more accurately using
electronic logging devices.
HOS rules also limit the total time a driver can be on duty (14 hours for
cargo carriers and 15 hours for passenger carriers), limit drive time
to within 8 hours or less of a minimum 30-minute break (for commercial
carriers), limit the hours of duty worked in a 7 / 8 day period, and require
at least 34 consecutive hours off duty before starting a new 7 /8 day
work period. Up until the current Presidential administration
suspended an Obama-era rule, commercial cargo carrying truckers were also required to take two mandatory
rest periods between 1 am to 5 am within their 34 hours off duty.
These commercial trucking regulations may be strict, but they have been
developed over years of research and data that clearly show tired drivers
are a danger to everyone on the road, and that mandatory breaks and longer
rest periods reduce the risks of preventable wrecks. The same or similar
regulations should also be expected of and adopted by other businesses
that operate in the transportation industry. After all, ensuring a safe
ride and the safety of other motorists and pedestrians on the road begins
with sensible and safety-conscious policies.
Help for Victims of Uber and Lyft Accidents in Washington, DC, Maryland
Although better policies are a way to keep the public safe, it is still
the responsibility of transportation companies – including rideshare
services – and drivers to ensure they take reasonable measures that
allow them to uphold their obligations of safely operating their motor
vehicles. When they fail to uphold this duty, drive while tired, or commit
other acts of negligence or carelessness, they can be held liable for
the injuries and damages they cause.
Our Washington, DC car accident attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata
& Siegel, P.C. are committed to protecting the rights of
auto accident victims throughout the DC metro area, including those harmed in accidents
involving Uber, Lyft, and other commercial transportation operators. If
you have a question regarding your rights and potential case,
contact us for a FREE consultation.