Peer-to-peer ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are often marketed as a “green” solution to America’s urban transportation crisis. In 2017, the co-founders of Lyft published a lengthy and propagandist article called “End of Traffic,” which argues that traffic can be improved by carpooling and smart lanes. What this article fails to mention is that rideshare drivers have increased urban congestion and contributed to a national increase in traffic-related injuries and fatalities.
Last year, the University of Chicago released a study linking rideshare drivers to a 3% increase in the annual number of traffic fatalities in the United States.
According to the study, rideshare drivers are responsible for a significant increase in:
- Pedestrian deaths
- Weekend car collisions
- Late night traffic fatalities
A Dangerous Business Model
The rideshare business model is extremely competitive and favors customers and executives over drivers. Part of the problem is that Uber, Lyft, and other popular rideshare titans are constantly hiring new and inexperienced drivers to expand their areas of business. As Uber puts it, this job is “suitable for everyone, whether you already have a lot of driving experience or not.”
In 2017, Lyft had over 1.4 million drivers operating in the U.S., while Uber boasted 750,000 (2.25 million on a global scale). There is no employee “cap,” which can be dangerous when the average cost of a ride is $2 per mile. Rideshare drivers are competing against each other for scraps and engaging in unsafe driving habits just to make a living wage.
Uber even praises this cutthroat mentality on their website, reminding drivers that “You are your own boss,” “Uber is available 24/7,” and they can “decide when and how much you’re working.” The company adds that “overnight trips” are always available if a driver is too busy during the day, ignoring the reality that most drowsy driving accidents happen at night.
So why are there so many accidents and fatalities? It’s because rideshare drivers are transporting passengers for unreasonable lengths of time despite suffering fatigue, hunger, and dehydration.
Rideshare accidents can result in several catastrophic and life-threatening injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Burn injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Back injuries
- Chest injuries
- Internal injuries
- Loss of limb
- Neck injuries and whiplash
- Crush injuries
What Is Assembly Bill 5?
In the past, rideshare companies were able to profit from a reckless business model and avoid liability claims because their drivers are “independent contractors,” not employees. However, this is going to change on January 1, 2010 – well, at least in California.
Last September, Governor Gavin Newsom changed employment laws in California by signing Assembly Bill 5 into law. Per Newsom, AB5 will “help reduce worker misclassification – workers being wrongly classified as ‘independent contractors’ rather than employees, which erodes basic worker protections like the minimum wage, paid sick days and health insurance benefits.” Although rideshare drivers in California are cheering, their overlords are already preparing to file a ballot initiative that exempts themselves from this law.
Rideshare drivers are hoping to benefit from the following workplace standards in 2020:
- Minimum wage
- Rest breaks
- Sick time
- Unemployment and disability insurance
- Workers’ compensation
- Discrimination and sexual harassment protections
Assembly Bill 5 has the potential to improve the lives of countless Californians. If all goes as planned, drivers will be able to make minimum wage, take breaks, and even benefit from workers’ compensation. In other words, many of the common negligence issues associated with rideshare drivers could be remedied. There is also another factor to consider: Because drivers are now employees, it’s possible that rideshare companies could be held liable for collisions and incident-related injuries in the future.
The legal team at Scarlet Law Group will keep you updated!
Injured in a Rideshare Accident in the Bay Area? We Can Help!
Contact the car accident lawyers at Scarlett Law Group if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a devastating collision involving a rideshare driver. Our results-driven team can investigate the auto accident, negotiate with insurers on your behalf, and manage the details of your case – no matter the complexity – from start to finish.
Contact the Scarlett Law Group at (415) 688-2176 to arrange a free, no-risk consultation today.