Both Uber and Lyft place limits on the number of consecutive hours a driver can be logged in to the app, and some cities have placed even more stringent restrictions. In New York, rideshare drivers are subject to the same limitations as taxi and limousine drivers: a maximum of 10 hours of passenger time per day, followed by a break of at least 8 hours. Drivers who exceed these restrictions can be ticketed and fined, even if they switch apps and drive additional hours through a different company.
But, are the restrictions sufficient to keep passengers safe? One nationwide association of medical professionals says “no.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) listed reducing fatigue-related accidents among its 10 most important goals for 2017-18. That’s no surprise, given that the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has estimated that about 328,000 accidents each year involve a fatigued driver. Those accidents result in more than 100,000 injuries and thousands of traffic fatalities.
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, in announcing a prior rule limiting hours in service, reported that taxi drivers who worked more than 12 hours per day were 23.8% more likely to crash than those who drove fewer hours.
In April, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) announced that the organization considered existing restrictions insufficient, and called on rideshare companies to work together with government officials, medical professionals and law enforcement to address driver fatigue.
Unlike limitations placed on rideshare drivers in other major cities, such as Chicago, the NYC restriction counts only passenger time. Time driving around waiting for a trip request or driving to pick up a passenger don’t count. According to Sarfraz Maredia, General Manager of Uber in New York City, that means a typical driver could be on the road and logged in to the app for 14 hours before reaching the legal limit.
While the cap is cumulative across different platforms if the driver works through more than one rideshare company, it doesn’t include personal driving time. That means an Uber or Lyft driver may already have logged significant hours on the road before switching on the app. The restriction doesn’t address non-driving work, either.
More than 50% of drivers responding to a 2017 survey said that rideshare driving accounted for less than half of their income, and more than 27% said it accounted for very little of their income. So, although most rideshare drivers log only about 10 hours per week on the app, they may be putting in those hours after a long day at another job.
Unfortunately, many rideshare passengers are unaware of the risks associated with a tired driver. Even those who are aware of the danger may not be able to tell whether their driver is sufficiently alert to drive safely.
The most important thing rideshare passengers can do is to be aware of the risks associated with fatigued driving and other warning signs, and be vigilant. If you have doubts about a driver’s condition, politely decline the ride and make a new request, or find an alternate means of transportation.
If you’ve been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident, either as a passenger in the rideshare vehicle or as a pedestrian or occupant of another vehicle involved in the accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Schedule a free consultation with an Uber accident lawyer to learn more about your rights.