Hailing a ride through Uber, Lyft, or similar rideshare apps is a welcome convenience for millions of Americans. Unfortunately, that convenience is costing lives. Ridesharing is a blooming industry that is generating billions of dollars in revenue for rideshare operators. However, the industry is poorly regulated and provides little protection for passengers when a crash occurs.
Lyft and Uber are becoming ubiquitous throughout the country. As the number of rideshare operators has risen, so too has the traffic fatality rate. Nationwide, fatality car accidents have risen approximately 3% in cities where rideshare services operate. One reason for this is drivers spend more time “trolling” for tolls which increases traffic congestion and leads to drowsy driving.
Rideshare drivers are loosely screened by these services and few municipalities regulate their operations. Even the regulations in Las Vegas are rather generous. Passengers are lured into a false sense of security when downloading these apps; mistaken in the belief that their driver has been thoroughly vetted, properly trained, and adequately insured for the journey.
The bar to sign up as an Uber or Lyft driver is low enough that many people who couldn’t become professional commercial drivers because of poor driving records and missing skill sets can easily join these services. The lack of experience, driver training, basic mechanics, and knowledge of customer care can put anyone who sits down in their vehicle at risk of a very bumpy ride.
Convenience at a Cost
Rideshare users take a risk every time they step into an Uber or Lyft. Drivers may be intoxicated. They may intend to assault the passenger. They may drive erratically and in violation of posted signage so they can pick up another fare and earn more money. Rideshare drivers may not maintain the vehicle, and thus may travel down the road with bald tires, faulty steering, or other critical components that are known to cause motor vehicle accidents.
It is convenience at a cost, and that cost is sometimes the passenger’s life. When rideshare accidents occur, Uber and Lyft provide coverage for passengers and pedestrians involved in the wreck. In some cases, injured passengers may also be able to recover damages through the driver’s personal insurance policy.