Approximately 1 in 6 Uber or Lyft vehicles has at least one unaddressed safety issue that could put riders at risk of serious injury or death. These issues range from bald tires to major mechanical defects. When Uber or Lyft drivers fail to address vehicle safety concerns and passengers are injured, drivers and their rideshare companies may be held liable.
Open Safety Recalls
A recent investigation by Consumer Reports indicates that rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft are doing little to prevent the use of vehicles with open safety recalls. Defects range from steering problems to electrical issues that could negatively impact the vehicle’s handling characteristics. These issues could cause the vehicle’s engine to shut down unexpectedly, the vehicle to veer out of the lane of travel, or seat belts to detach in a motor vehicle accident.
A considerable number of people are at risk of suffering injuries in defective rideshare vehicle accidents. Roughly 36% of Americans have used ridesharing services in the past year. Of these, 98% have used Uber or Lyft.
Rider’s Never Know
Unlike limousine and taxi services, most municipalities do not require safety inspections for rideshare vehicles. Issues often go unaddressed and drivers with faulty vehicles continue to pick up rides. Moreover, riders have no way of knowing whether or not an Uber or Lyft driver has corrected known safety issues. This puts riders at the mercy of rideshare drivers and their adherence to recalls issued on their vehicles.
Further, many drivers neglect regular maintenance on their vehicles. Everything from skipping oil changes to ignoring worn tires can jeopardize the health and safety of passengers. When drivers deliberately ignore general maintenance, they create hazards that can make a trip a one-way ride to the hospital.
Legislators Pushing for Change
Legislators in Washington are slowly waking up to the risks surrounding rideshare operators. In June, Senator Klobuchar began pressing Uber and Lyft for more information about their operations. In particular, they are looking at how the companies ensure rider safety. In the future, this may lead to the increased regulatory oversight that would require rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to enhance their inspection requirements and require drivers to comply with open safety recalls. In August, Lyft claimed to have implemented a policy that forbids drivers from using vehicles with “Do Not Drive” orders. Whether the policy will be enforced remains to be seen.