Throughout the last decade, the popularity of ridesharing has grown exponentially. Rideshare allows passengers to connect with drivers via smartphones and applications, who use their personal vehicles to assist in the transportation needs of others. The introduction of rideshare companies, such as Uber or Lyft, has shifted the focus from public transportation to getting around efficiently. With the ever-growing popularity of these rideshare companies, concerns regarding the liability and safety of passengers have risen. Many people participate in using these rideshare companies but often do not fully understand the safety guidelines in place for both riders and drivers when on the road. Are the guidelines in place adequate for putting your safety, or the safety of friends and family, in the hands of an unknown driver?
Potential risks on the road
There are numerous risks facing both drivers and passengers involved in ridesharing. From unexpected vehicle accidents to distracted driving, unpredicted circumstances on the road may lead to life-altering injuries following a motor vehicle accident. Additionally, the safety of passengers riding with an unknown driver may bring additional uncertainties or risks.
- Rideshare Drivers
- Road Safety: Did you know that motor vehicle accidents are the sixth most common cause of death in the United States? Driving many hours without a break can be dangerous for everyone on the road, as they become fatigued and less aware of the dangers on the road.
- Unpredictable passengers: Drivers are faced with not knowing who exactly they are picking up, especially during the night when people may be intoxicated. Getting stuck in an altercation with a passenger could lead to unwanted aggression.
- Insurance gaps: As a driver for rideshare companies, Uber or Lyft, for example, your personal auto insurance may not cover you if you are involved in an accident while using your vehicle for commercial purposes, and the company’s insurance may only coverparts of your shift. It is not a surprise that drivers find themselves without insurance coverage if they get into an accident.
- Rideshare Passengers
- Driver impersonation: Passengers can mistakenly, especially with alcohol involved, get in the vehicle with someone who is not their driver.
- Accidents: Although rideshare companies do a background check on drivers, you never know the true ability of your driver. Distractions, such as cell phones, loud music, or loud conversations in the car, could put both the driver and passenger at risk of fatal accidents.
- Low-rated drivers: For most rideshare companies, low-rated drivers will get kicked off the platform; however, it takes time and many low ratings. This can put passengers at risk if they ride with a low-rated, unsafe driver who has yet to be kicked off the platform.
- Tips for Rideshare Safety – Under Rhode Island’s public utilities commission, companies such as Uber or Lyft will be required to do their background checks on drivers, provide minimum insurance requirements, and pay a $30,000 annual permit if they have 200 or more drivers per year.
- Treat your driver with kindness and respect. – Rideshare companies have community guidelines in place for the safety of both drivers and riders. At the end of the day, the driver is driving you in their own car, so be respectful of them and their property.
- Stay inside as you wait for your driver. – Limit the amount of time spent outside, especially if you are alone and on your phone. Rideshare companies notify you when your driver has arrived at the pickup location.
- Verify your driver and their license plate – Rideshare companies show a picture, the name of the driver, and their license plate number on the application before the driver arrives. It is important that passengers verify these three items before getting in the vehicle.
- Provide ratings – This is important for both drivers and passengers. If you encounter a passenger or driver who acts poorly or makes you feel uncomfortable, give them a low rating to protect other passengers or drivers.
- Listen to your gut – As a passenger, never be afraid to follow your instinct. Uber and Lyft both have an emergency button providing emergency service. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to call 911 or press the rideshare emergency button.
- Buckle up – It is crucial that everyone in the vehicle puts on their seatbelt before the vehicle moves. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seatbelts are the most effective way to stay safe and avoid injuries as a passenger.
- Once your ride reservation is made, let your friends or family know your ETA and trip details.
In Rhode Island and throughout the United States, rideshare services continue to evolve and increase in popularity. If you are faced with injuries or liability following a rideshare accident, you may benefit from consulting with a rideshare accident attorney at Marasco & Nesselbush. Our firm understands the complexity of rideshare accidents, injuries faced by both drivers and passengers, and the uncertainty faced by those involved in motor vehicle accidents resulting in fatalities.