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Does the Uber Driver’s App Facilitate Distracted Driving

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When a billion-dollar transportation company is largely centered around both driving and the use of cell phones, we have to wonder: how could Uber drivers not get distracted on the road? Is distracted Uber driving a problem?

Uber drivers receive trip requests from riders when they go “online,” which in Uber lingo means they are actively accepting passengers. When a rider requests a trip through the app, the closest driver will be the first to receive the trip request. The Uber “driver alert” will beep repeatedly and the screen will flash until the driver responds to the request. The driver can then tap anywhere on the screen to accept the trip.

Distractions in the App

Oftentimes, the app will send drivers new trip requests as they approach their current riders’ destination, allowing them to pick up a new person as soon as possible. A live map also shows drivers the areas where riders are requesting trips the most. Even if they are still driving, an Uber driver will need to first look at the new rider’s location and destination before accepting it. This requires up to several seconds of no road awareness and lost reaction time.

Distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving. It will lead to dangerous or fatal consequences.

Looking at the phone, reading the new rider request, making a decision, and physically accepting the rider combines all three main types of distraction to complete the task:

  • Visual: looking away from the road,
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel, and
  • Cognitive: thinking about something other than driving.

Even though there might not be enough time to safely pull over to decide, Uber drivers have to act quickly. Missing rider requests causes drivers to lose fares. Declining too many rides can mean penalties through Uber. Uber does not adequately address the issue of distracted driving with its drivers. Uber makes it virtually impossible for its drivers to heed this hollow and impractical warning. When the driver is moving at 55 mph, the average five seconds of visual attention required for texting takes the same amount of time as covering the length of a football field… blindfolded.

Uber may be a convenient alternative to more expensive and less accessible cabs. But until it figures out a safer way to connect drivers and passengers, everyone should be aware. Contact our Uber accident lawyers for a free consultation if you sustained injuries in a crash involving an Uber.

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