Do Uber and Lyft Make California Roads Safer?
Do Uber and Lyft Make California Roads Safer or Scarier?
Ride-sharing services, like Lyft and Uber, have long marketed themselves as superior alternatives to commuter-packed freeways and traditional metered taxis. There are also countless fans of their convenience, mobile apps and economic fees. As far as safety is concerned, however, they may not have that many advantages.
Who’s at fault if you get hit by an Uber driver while you’re standing next to the curb? When the Lyft you’re riding in crashes, do you have to pay for medical treatment? These situations aren’t always so straightforward. Here are a few tips from the Etehad Law research team on what you might expect.
Ride Sharing Doesn't Make Roads That Much Safer
One of the biggest supposed advantages of ride-sharing services is that they get drunk drivers off the road by giving them more transportation alternatives. This seems like it would make sense, but it may just be a convenient advertising myth.
According to a 2016 study performed by University of Oxford researchers, companies like Uber don’t reduce drunk driving as much as they claim to. Although it’s certain some individuals definitely use the services, scientists said that those who are seriously drunk may be too far gone to think about calling for a ride.
Companies Don't Always Take Responsibility for Injury Incidents
Another problem lies in the fact that ride-sharing companies have been known to fight legal action that would hold them liable for wrecks. In one noteworthy case from 2014, Uber resisted blame for a pedestrian crash that claimed the life of a San Francisco 6-year-old and significantly harmed her brother and mother.
The driver who caused this tragedy was an Uber contractor who didn’t yield for the child and her family as they crossed the street. The family’s attorney said the contractor was busy looking for fares using the company’s UberX phone app when the accident occurred. Uber contested that because he wasn’t actively responding to a fare request, the accident was his fault. They also maintained that his non-employee status made them not liable.
Could New Laws Make a Difference?
Across the country, legislators are considering new regulations for ride-sharing companies. For instance, in 2014, California successfully passed laws that increased the amount of insurance such companies had to carry to operate legally.
Uber and Lyft vocally pushed back against the California measures while they were being debated. The companies continue to fight in states like Florida, where lawmakers want to require background checks for drivers and mandate vehicle-maintenance rules.
Ride-sharing companies probably aren’t against safety improvements, at least in principle. Still, their business models thrive on maintaining large pools of drivers who aren’t classified as traditional employees. This may increase the likelihood that injured parties, such as passengers and other motorists, will have to pursue action against individual drivers. While growing numbers of insurers offer policies for these contractors, victims seeking restitution or trying to prove claims need to organize their cases carefully.
Do you use services like Uber or Lyft? Have you sustained an injury in an accident involving one of these companies? Find out what to do next by contacting Etehad Law today.