Ridesharing accidents have led to numerous injuries for pedestrians, ridesharing passengers, and occupants of other vehicles. Tragically, these accidents have also caused the deaths of both passengers and pedestrians. Studies show that the mere presence of ridesharing vehicles on the road increases the risk of accidents and fatalities in an area.
In addition to the indirect effect these drivers have on traffic safety, ridesharing drivers are also directly involved with numerous accidents. Some of the most common causes of ridesharing accidents are as follows:
Speeding causes a lot of accidents both with and without ridesharing vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding kills over 9,000 people per year, and over a quarter (26%) of all accidents are caused by speeding. Unfortunately, no one has gathered quality stats for the number of ridesharing accidents caused by speeding.
However, one study indicates that you may be slightly safer in a ridesharing vehicle if you’re worried about the risks of speeding. In an analysis of over a million ridesharing trips, researchers found that ridesharing drivers speed in about 30% of journeys. In contrast, the average driver speeds in about 40% of trips.
Speed limits are designed for ideal road conditions. When rain, fog, snow, or other types of inclement weather increase the danger of driving, ridesharing drivers should slow down. If they don’t, they risk getting into an accident, especially if their visibility or ability to stop quickly is compromised by the conditions on the road.
Understanding how to drive safely in any type of weather and road condition, like heavy congestion or roadside construction, takes a lot of experience. Unfortunately, many ridesharing drivers aren’t that experienced.
Research indicates that ridesharing drivers do not have as much experience behind the wheel as the average taxi driver. To give passengers some protection from inexperienced drivers, Massachusetts law requires ridesharing drivers to be over the age of 21. If under the age of 23, they must have been licensed for at least three years, but over that age, they only need a year of experience under their belts. To protect yourself from inexperienced drivers, you may want to focus on choosing drivers who have a lot of positive reviews from their riders.
Driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. About half of all drivers report that they drive while drowsy, and 20% of drivers admit that they have fallen asleep behind the wheel of the car during the last year. Even if drivers manage to stay awake, they have slowed reaction times and lack the ability to pay attention. Drowsy driving causes 1,550 fatalities every year and is the cause of over 100,000 police-reported accidents annually.
Tragically, ridesharing practices often encourage drivers to keep using the app even when they are tired. In the past, large ridesharing companies have even offered drivers guaranteed payments for driving at least 60 hours per week — plus bonuses for completing a certain number of trips in a set time period. Incentives like that may convince drivers to keeping looking for more passengers even when they feel exhausted.
In fact, ridesharing passengers have reported anecdotes of drivers missing highway exchanges, swerving to avoid other vehicles, not being able to pay attention to directions, and seeming dangerously tired behind the wheel.
Whether someone drives for a ridesharing company or just for themselves, they have an obligation to obey traffic signals and signs. If they fail to follow the rules of the road, they may be guilty of negligence, and if their actions cause injuries or death, they may be civilly and/or criminally liable.
In some cases, multiple people are responsible for an accident. For instance, in Miami, a drunk driver slammed into an Uber. The driver was charged with DUI manslaughter because he caused the death of a 20-year-old passenger in addition to injuring the Uber driver and three other passengers in the vehicle. However, the Uber was only in the path of danger because the Uber driver failed to follow the rules of the road and didn’t have the right of way in this situation.
Distracted driving leads to numerous accidents every year. Drivers get distracted by radios, other passengers, eating, grooming, and countless other activities, but smartphones have increased the risk of dangerous driving.
Ridesharing drivers are especially prone to distraction as they must engage with the app to find passengers. Also, while a passenger is in the car, they may glance at their phones to figure out where to go. But they also tend to look at their phones when they’re on the way to pick up passengers, and some people argue that this is even more dangerous because the distraction is coupled with rushing to pick up the passenger. For instance, distraction played a large role when an Uber driver in New York City hit and killed a pedestrian in the crosswalk while on the way to grab a fare.
Tragically, some ridesharing accidents are not related to driver errors or mistakes. Instead, injuries occur due to the driver acting violently. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, an Uber driver shot and killed six people. To protect passengers from these risks, Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing companies do background checks, but unfortunately, the checks are not foolproof.
This driver passed his background check, but critics claim the checks are insufficient because they don’t involve law enforcement expertise or fingerprinting technology. In fact, in Massachusetts, the inadequacy of these companies’ background checks was revealed when the state discovered that 15% of applicants (30,000 drivers) who passed Uber’s background check were unable to pass the second round of screening done by the state. When a company’s negligence in the screening process leads to your injuries, the company may be liable for your damages.
If a ridesharing driver is drowsy, intoxicated, or distracted, they may cause an accident, and if the accident results in death or injuries, the driver may be liable for your damages. Often, the ridesharing company is liable as well, but these companies are notorious for trying to escape liability after an accident.
If you have been injured in a ridesharing accident, you should seek legal assistance. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we can help you protect your rights, negotiate with the ridesharing company, and get the justice you deserve after an accident. To talk more about your case, contact us for a no-cost case evaluation. We look forward to helping you.