Uber drivers may be causing an uptick in distracted driving accidents. Once hailed as the most convenient method of getting home safe, some safety experts fear the Uber app could be putting drivers and their passengers at serious risk.
Uber is an easy to use platform where drivers and riders can instantly connect. Riders who are interested in requesting a trip look for nearby drivers available to pick up or delivery. Once a ride is requested, the selected Uber driver receives a ‘driver alert’ and must quickly accept the job and provide an estimated time for arrival. When the ride is finished, riders can pay, tip, and even review their trip straight through the app before going on their way.
Everything an Uber driver needs in order to do their job (aside from the car) can be found on the Uber app. Unfortunately, this means drivers are heavily reliant on using their phones behind the wheel, a behavior that is proven to lead to life-threatening accidents.
Uber drivers only have 15-seconds to respond to a ‘driver alert’ when on the job. If they take too long to respond, the driver could risk losing the fare or being placed on a temporary suspension from the service. Since most drivers are in the middle of another ride when receiving a request, this forces Uber drivers to respond while driving if they want to be profitable.
Using a cellphone while driving is one of the deadliest distracted driving behaviors on the road. The National Safety Council (N.S.C.) reports over 390,000 Americans are injured every year in accidents caused by drivers using cellphones. Cellphones cause drivers to divert their attention away from the road and lead to reckless behaviors, including:
All of these driving behaviors increase the chance of a serious or fatal vehicle accident; speeding is the most fatal.
Speeding increases the likelihood that an accident will occur and the severity of injuries resulting from the accident. Distracted drivers who are speeding are more likely to miss hazards on the road, including other vehicles, construction zones, and fixed structures such as bridges, poles, and guardrails. Uber drivers who are operating in busy cities have even more chances of causing tragic accidents with the addition of pedestrians, cyclists, and mass transit vehicles sharing the road.
Uber drivers earn a living based on how many riders they pick up in a day. If an Uber driver is constantly checking his or her cellphone behind the wheel, this increases the chance of an accident with every ride.
The Guardian reports an estimated 900,000 active Uber drivers are picking up riders on any given day in the United States. Some of these drivers work over 50 hours a week. With the goal of picking up as many riders as possible to turn a profit, this elevates the number of opportunities for distracted Uber drivers to cause accidents.
Modern-day drivers have hundreds of different distractions that can take their attention from the road. All of these distractions fall under three categories:
The expectations of fast response and pick up times for Uber drivers often leads them to fall victim to all three types of distractions at the same time. The more types of distractions that are present during an Uber trip, the higher the risk for an accident.
Supporters of Uber drivers pride these motorists on their ability to multitask behind the wheel. A British article published in the Evening Standard in 2016 described Uber drivers as “the superheroes who make London run smoothly.”
However, research on the human mind has proven that successful multitasking is more of a myth than a skill. According to the American Psychological Association (A.P.A.), people who participate in two complex tasks at the same time, such as checking the Uber app and driving, are splitting their productivity 50/50. Neither task is receiving full attention, and this can be particularly dangerous when the task involves keeping others safe.
Trying to multitask while driving leads to a condition called inattention blindness. Inattention blindness occurs when a person is cognitively distracted, reducing the amount of information processed by the brain. Doing just one other task in the car reduces a driver’s perception of their driving environment by up to 50 percent. This allows busy drivers to miss critical road hazards they may have otherwise seen without the distraction.
It’s unfortunate that Uber drivers must choose between driving safely and making a profit. But there is never an excuse for putting others in preventable danger. If you or someone you love has been injured due to a distracted Uber driver or another motorist, our team of aggressive Uber accident attorneys is here to help.
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