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Los Angeles Law Blog

By John Kristensen of Kristensen Weisberg, LLP posted in rideshare on Friday, August 17, 2018.
Systemic liabilities within rideshare programs

Have you ever been concerned by a driver’s habits on the road, only to realize they are operators of a rideshare program such as Uber or Lyft? Well, you have good reason to worry. Unfortunately, these industries are still in their infancy, which creates a number of risky conditions that expose everyone on the road to increased chances of driving-related dangers and liabilities.

There are a number of safety issues – some are slightly more abstract, while others directly affect everyone who shares the road. For drivers and passengers alike there is always a risk of personal safety in regards to sharing a car with a stranger. The vehicles themselves are also unknown to passengers and those who share the road with them – vehicle maintenance, tire safety, recalls and safety features, and other technical concerns can also all lead to preventable accidents that lead to death and injury. Perhaps more importantly, however, is how rideshare programs encourage drivers to operate their vehicles.

Increased phone use

Uber is entirely phone-centric. You need the phone to accept fares, navigate routes, and likely use additional features like music and more. All of this equates to phone-prone driving – a deadly distraction. Rideshare drivers are much more likely than the average individual to be staring at their phone, unsure of their next maneuver, which leads to swerving, erratic driving, and a decreased ability to recognize and respond to road conditions.

Uncertainty of street systems

You may or may not realize it, but rideshare drivers travel far. It’s not uncommon for a rideshare driver to take a fare 100 miles or more outside of their city of residence in the name of making money. We’ve all likely driven on unfamiliar roads, and it can be difficult under the best of conditions – more so if you end up in an urban area with complicated street systems, which is coincidentally where a lot of fares are found due to accessibility of nightlife. When you have distracted drivers operating vehicles late at night with no understanding of the area – not too mention while transporting passengers who may be severely intoxicated, you’re severely increasing the odds of a vehicle-related accident that could affect anybody on the roads.

Lack of qualifications

Arguably the largest problem of all, there is very little required in the way of qualifications in order to become a rideshare driver, and little regulation once you’ve been accepted. In addition to being potentially unsafe drivers from the start, with no governing body to ensure responsible driving practices are followed, many of these individuals are working long hours that quickly make them unsafe roadside companions. Most rideshare drivers do not do so as their primary source of income – all types of professionals can be found on rideshare services to make extra money. At face value, there’s nothing wrong with this, but consider how many labor hours that can quickly add up to– working a full-time job and then hitting the roads is an excellent recipe for disaster.

Rideshare programs do a lot to keep individuals safe as well – they reduce the temptation for individuals to drive intoxicated, and can reduce the number of cars on the road as more people come to use them ritualistically. However, that doesn’t negate the systemic deficiencies endangering responsible drivers right now – if you’ve been affected by an unsafe rideshare operator, please give us a call.

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