With the increase in popularity of ride-hailing services such as Uber and its competitor Lyft, more and more drivers are signing up with such services as a way to make some extra money on the side. But just how safe is it to answer that service call while you’re on the road?
Not very safe at all, as the New York Times (NYT) recently pointed out. The problem is that new service requests come through the drivers’ phones – there is a loud beep signalling a service call – and drivers have only 15 seconds in which to decide whether they should tap the phone and accept the fare. Fifteen seconds is not a very long period of time. And in some cities, if you’re on the road and you fail to respond to several such service calls in a row, you may end up temporarily suspended from the system.
Taxi drivers, too, are not free of the risk of this type of distraction. According to the NYT, a new system called Flywheel is currently in use in San Francisco. The software comes in the form of a phone app, and as with the Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing apps for drivers, it works much the same way. The service call comes through the app and the first taxi driver to respond gets the fare. Taxi drivers get a slightly longer period of time to respond: 20 seconds. If no-one responds within 20 seconds, the call is then sent out to another group of drivers.
Uber told the NYT that its app was designed with safety in mind, as drivers did not have to engage in any way with the app other than tapping it in order to receive the fare. However, accepting a fare without knowing where the customer is may not be something most ride-hailing drivers want to do.
Questions about driver distraction with ride-hailing services are on people’s minds, especially with the recent misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges laid last month against a Uber driver in San Francisco who had hit and killed a six-year-old girl on New Year’s Eve of the previous year.
If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of an accident involving a distracted driver, Bradley I. Kramer and his experienced legal team are here to help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.