Are Rideshare Companies Asleep at the Wheel on Driver Fatigue?
More Americans use popular rideshare services these days to get where they need to go. Lyft, Uber and others are an affordable and efficient way to get around, and you can save gas money and wear and tear on your vehicle. But there are problems with rideshare companies that many people do not consider. A recent study conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine determined that driver fatigue is becoming a more serious problem for rideshare drivers. When drivers are drowsy behind the wheel, the chances of a serious accident with injuries, or even death, are much higher. The study found that there are 328,000 crashes each year from all sleepy drivers, and 6,400 fatalities. According to the study, a major reason there is more fatigue for rideshare drivers is their hectic work schedule. Few drivers for Uber and Lyft make this their primary job. For most of them, it is a second job they use to make ends meet. Most rideshare drivers are driving after they are done with their first job. Some of them are driving late at night and may not have enough rest. There is incentive for rideshare drivers to do late night drives because the fares are higher, too. As most people know, we need at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night to be alert during the day. But many rideshare drivers are probably operating on limited sleep, and the chances for serious accidents is higher. Also, AASM noted that the majority of these drivers are 1099, independent contractors and do not get screened for any medical problems that can cause sleepiness while driving. For example, if a driver suffers from sleep apnea that is undiagnosed, he could easily fall asleep behind the wheel and injure or kill a passenger. The higher incidence of drowsy driver accidents involving rideshare drivers has gotten the notice of these companies’ leaders. This year, for example, Uber has begun requiring drivers to take a break for six hours after they have been driving for 12 hours. This means they cannot be on the Uber app for at least six hours after driving 12 hours. While this helps, many rideshare drivers drive for several rideshare companies, so it is very easy for them to drive far too many hours than is safe. Of course, rideshare drivers are not the only ones who drive when they are tired. The FMCSA estimates 13% of big rig crashes each year are due to drowsy drivers. Whether a drowsy driver works for Uber, a trucking company or is just a private citizen, you should seek compensation if you are injured in an accident.