As GPS capabilities advance and smartphones become more numerous, peer-to-peer ridesharing apps like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar have become increasingly popular. Evidence against the proposed safety of these services continues to mount, challenging lawmakers to do something to protect passengers.
In 2019, a South Carolina college student was murdered by a man posing as her Uber driver. Sadly, this story is not unique. Uber and Lyft drivers have been accused of sexually assaulting over 100 women in the past five years. Other studies have linked ridesharing to a rise in traffic deaths.
These troubling numbers have prompted many lawmakers to consider enacting legislation to protect passengers and improve the safety of rideshare services.
What Makes Rideshare Different from Taxis?
Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft did not exist before smartphones. Now, passengers can be connected with non-commercial drivers in their personal vehicles to get from place to place.
Lyft and Sidecar were the first companies to integrate peer-to-peer ridesharing services into their application. Uber soon followed with UberX.
Rideshare drivers are not traditional employees like taxi or limousine drivers. The latter are subject to more stringent screening and hiring procedures, undergo training, and are licensed and insured by their companies.
Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar drivers are independent contractors, not employees. To become a driver, one must submit to a background check, often done by a third-party, and have their vehicle inspected.
Unlike traditional taxi-cabs, rideshare vehicles are nearly indistinguishable from passenger vehicles, with most only displaying a small sticker indicating their association with Uber or Lyft.
South Carolina Considers Rideshare Safety Act
Lawmakers around the country are working to improve ridesharing services by enacting legislation to protect passengers and the economy from the unintended negative effects of transportation company networks, like Uber and Lyft.
In response to the 2019 tragedy in South Carolina, lawmakers have considered legislation that would require rideshare vehicles to display signage that helps customers clearly identify the appropriate vehicle. Currently, in South Carolina, drivers are only required to have reflective stickers visible from 50 feet away.
Large cities across the country have enacted laws similar to this one. In response, rideshare companies have provided drivers with the appropriate signage, making their vehicles distinguishable from regular passenger cars.
Evaluate Your Options and Protect Yourself
Due to the lack of definitive research on ridesharing services and safety, it is impossible to say whether taxis or public transportation are safer options than Uber. Depending upon your location and needs, rideshare service might be the best option for your upcoming trip. If this is the case, follow the advice laid out below to best protect yourself:
- Do not wait for your ride outside with your phone in your hand. Wait indoors until the app indicates your driver has arrived.
- Always confirm the name of the driver and the make of the vehicle.
- Travel in groups when possible. If alone, call or text a friend to let them know that you where you are traveling to and from. Both the Uber and Lyft app have status sharing capabilities for passengers.
- If you are riding alone, sit in the backseat.
- Check your driver’s rating and also rate them yourself. If you feel unsafe in your ride, be sure to contact the company and rate the driver accordingly.
- If you are in an unfamiliar place, follow the route in your own mapping app.
Auger & Auger is in YOUR Corner
If you are seriously injured as a passenger in a rideshare accident, contact Auger & Auger right away at 800-559-5741 to discuss the possibilities of your case.
Our local office rideshare accident attorney can help you to understand your rights and help you to receive the compensation you deserve for your damages, losses, pain, and suffering.