Ridesharing apps, particularly the major players, Uber and Lyft, have made huge changes in recent years to how people get around, and how others earn a living. While passengers enjoy the convenience of affordable, on-demand drivers, and drivers enjoy the freedom of making their own schedules, this new approach to transportation has so far fallen short in other ways, including safety.
Because rideshare drivers are contractors and not employees, they receive none of the training and little of the screening that traditional cab drivers undergo. Not only that, but Lyft and similar companies have historically used drivers’ contractor status as an excuse to deny responsibility for their misdeeds and mistakes, which have been alarmingly frequent.
Unprofessional, Unqualified, and Criminal Drivers Are Common
In March of 2019, a Lyft driver in Northwest Atlanta ran a red light and collided with a semi-truck, killing his passenger. Just a week earlier, another Lyft driver from Decatur was found guilty of raping an intoxicated passenger. Her friends had hired the service to see her home safely — one of the exact purposes it’s marketed for.
One year before the Northwest Atlanta crash, another Lyft driver ran a stop sign in Covington and died in a nearly identical collision with a tractor-trailer, though thankfully no one else was harmed in that incident.
The year before that, an off-duty driver who contracted with both Uber and Lyft struck and killed a pedestrian in Clayton County. Though breathalyzer results put her blood alcohol at just over half the legal limit, she was visibly impaired and unable to pass a field sobriety test.
Lyft Has Turned Down Opportunities to Protect People
While some argue that the dangers of Lyft are simply the same unavoidable dangers people face while on the road or interacting with strangers every day, there are many things Lyft could do to keep its passengers safer, or better support them when incidents occur.
In addition to lobbying to avoid fingerprinting requirements for its drivers, Lyft has refused to check for safety recalls before approving its drivers’ vehicles, even after a study in Florida found one in five rideshare vehicles to be subject to such a recall. Lyft already requires a vehicle inspection that could easily include this step, but the inspection’s emphasis on newness and appearance implies that safety is not its purpose.
Lyft has also failed to crack down on the black market sale of fraudulent accounts, which allows completely unscreened drivers to use the platform, and it has denied help to injured users, in spite of its well-known $1 million insurance policy.
In 2017, an Australian tourist was severely injured in a Lyft accident while on vacation in the U.S. The Lyft driver was not at fault in this case, but Lyft’s insurance explicitly covers instances of uninsured/underinsured third parties. This means it should have covered the victim anyway, if the at-fault driver’s insurance refused, which it did. Yet three months after the accident, the tourist was still trapped in the U.S, unable to afford even the preliminary treatment he’d need to endure a flight home, with Lyft’s insurance representative ignoring his calls.
If you too have been injured by Lyft’s inadequate safety policies, contact The Stoddard Firm for help.