The Dangers of Ride-Sharing

Most people have heard of Uber by now.  The new ride-sharing service is touted by many as more convenient and cheaper than hiring a regular cab service.  Uber allows drivers to use their own car to drive passengers needing a ride near them.  The app is convenient for both drivers and riders – allowing both to see who needs and ride and who is available to drive within a certain vicinity. 

Typically, the Uber service is faster and cheaper than the regular cab service but there are certainly some dangers.

Taxi cab services have been around a long time and we have come to know what to expect.  While we may know very little about the specific driver, we know that the cab company is responsible for making sure that driver is safe, making sure the car is in a safe driving condition, and making sure there is adequate insurance in the event of a crash.

Uber requires their drivers to be 21 years old, have a “good condition” 4-door vehicle that isn’t older than a 2006 model, and car insurance. 

Whether it is a taxi driver or an Uber driver who picks you up, there is always a concern regarding the safety of the driver.  Does the driver know the rules of the road?  Is the driver in a hurry in order to make more trips and earn more money? 

Uber relies on its drivers to secure and maintain personal liability insurance on the vehicle.  That requires a lot of trust in the individual drivers.  The concern is that the individual driver may let the insurance lapse or may claim there is adequate coverage when in reality, the driver has only secured the minimum state limits.  In the event of a crash with injury to the rider, it is the rider that would suffer for this lack of insurance.

Most cab companies fingerprint all driver applicants.  While Uber does perform a background check of its drivers, it does not fingerprint its applicants.  Some argue that Uber’s failure to use this comprehensive method of checking someone’s driving and criminal history exposes riders to avoidable danger.  Indeed, there have been some criminal issues with Uber since its inception.  Uber has already agreed to pay $28.5 million to settle a lawsuit which alleged Uber’s safety claims were false. The national Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association has started a new campaign called “Who’s Driving You?”  

In 2015 alone, Uber drivers were involved in 13 sexual assaults and one rape.

Recently, Uber changed its Terms of Service.  When you hire an Uber driver, it is highly unlikely that you actually read through these Terms of Service – not many people do that.  But with these recent changes, you should be aware of what you are agreeing to when you utilize this company.  The new terms include a mandatory arbitration clause which definitely makes it tougher for riders to sue Uber in the event of a vehicle crash. 

Arbitration clauses usually do nothing for the public and everything for the company. 

This one is no different.  If you use Uber for a ride and the vehicle you are in is involved in a crash, you give up your right to bring your personal injury lawsuit in front of a jury.  Instead, you are forced to use arbitration. Riders were allowed to “opt out” of the new terms but you had to do so prior to the end of December.  If you want to try to opt out now, you can email [email protected]

Whether hiring a local taxicab company or Uber, be sure you evaluate your safety concerns before you get into the car.

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