Over the past few years, rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft have become popular, ushering in an era in which consumers can now bypass taxis and save money. But as the number of drivers on the road has increased due to these rideshare services, so too has the potential for more car accidents.
Although there are no official published statistics about the total number of car accident injuries and deaths caused by rideshare service drivers, there were at least a half dozen serious car wrecks in 2016 caused by Uber drivers.
If you use these rideshare services on a regular basis, it is important for you to understand the risks that some of these drivers pose.
Less Stringent Standards
When you climb into a taxi, you can be sure that the driver of that cab have been vetted by standards that include a medical exam to prove fitness, a driver’s license that is not suspended or expired and a clean criminal record confirmed through a background check.
In some cities, such as San Francisco, taxi owners must also install video cameras to record driver and passenger behavior. This can be invaluable evidence when a cab driver is involved in an accident because it provides a time-line and records the behavior of a driver before, during and after the accident.
But the problem with rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft is that they do not hold their drivers to a similar standard.
For example, the Uber website lists minimum requirements for drivers as:
- 21 years of age
- One year driving experience in the U.S./3 years if you are under 23
- Valid U.S. driver’s license
- Eligible 4-door vehicle
- Proof of vehicle insurance
- Online screening to confirm driving record and criminal history
Some states add their own requirements to Uber’s basic list of qualifications. In Los Angeles, for example, the vehicles of all prospective Uber drivers must pass a vehicle inspection, but by and large, the standards are uniform throughout the U.S. The problem, however, is that the online screening may not be as comprehensive as it should be.
Uber claims that the background check goes back seven years, but a recent NBC4 investigation found many cases of drivers under the employ of Uber who had criminal records, such as burglary and reckless driving.
The NBC4 investigative team also sent a woman with a 20-year criminal history – that included drugs possession and assault – to fill out an application to become an Uber driver. The woman completed the online application and received confirmation within four weeks that her background check was clean and that she had been cleared to driver for Uber.
This highlights the fact that there are obvious gaps in the effectiveness of Uber’s background check process, which heightens the risk not only for passengers in Uber cars, but also for other motorists who share the road with an Uber driver who has not been vetted for risky behavior.
Until rideshare services such as Uber improve their standards for hiring drivers, they may continue to preside over contractors who cause accidents that lead to serious injuries or even death.
That was the case in a Seattle accident in March, in which an Uber driver in a 2007 Nissan Xterra struck the driver of a Honda Accord, causing the vehicle to hit a tree and burst into flames. The driver of the Accord later died, but the driver of the Uber was not hurt in the crash, though the passenger in the Uber vehicle suffered minor injuries.
How We Help You
After an accident, your thoughts and emotions may be chaotic, and that’s why you need a personal injury law firm that has a track record of winning settlements and helping to restore your well-being.
At Rosner Law Offices, P.C., we’ve built a team of lawyers, investigators and support staff that can get you back on your feet after a car accident. Call us today at 856-238-5724 for a free legal consultation.