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Articles Posted in Uber/Lyft Accidents

Although all drivers are at risk for motor vehicle accidents, drivers for ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft seem to be disproportionately prone to accidents, even as they face other challenges.

For starters, working shifts for Uber and Lyft drivers can be excessively long, sometimes lasting all day and going late into the night. Add to that the constant stress of  rush hour deadlines, customer satisfaction, and navigating Boston traffic from customer to customer, and you have the perfect recipe for distraction.

Are Uber and Lyft Bad for the Driver?

When an Uber or Lyft driver has an accident, safety isn’t the only concern. Their source of income is also on the line.  When a ride-sharing driver is no longer able to work due to on-the-job injuries, lost wages and an onslaught of medical bills can financially destroy the driver.

Ride-sharing drivers often live under the pretense that Uber or Lyft will protect them if an accident prevents them from working. But, this is simply not true. They are independent contractors, not employees.

With the rise of ride-share apps, there has been a rise in accidents. A Boston personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been involved in an Uber or Lyft auto accident.

Are Uber and Lyft Bad for the Passenger?

Uber and Lyft drivers need to submit a background check before transporting their first customer. If the background check reveals a criminal history or bad driving record, they won’t be approved to drive for the company. But this doesn’t automatically mean that Uber and Lyft contractors are good drivers, or even good people. From fatal collisions to assault and rape, Uber and Lyft drivers have been linked to multiple acts of negligence and criminal behaviors. A MA auto accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident.

Common Causes of Uber and Lyft Accidents

As with any motor vehicle accident, Uber and Lyft accidents can occur at any time, and for any reason. But the most common causes of these accidents include:

  • Lack of sleep: Uber and Lyft drivers often work excessively-long shifts, seven days a week. Such long hours can cause fatigue, which may result in a lack of the concentration needed to operate a vehicle. On a positive note, however, Uber has recently added a rule that drivers cannot put in more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period. The ride-share company is also sending alerts to drivers to take breaks and rest. Even so, a 12-hour work day can result in a fatigued driver.
  • Poor vehicle maintenance: If the vehicle has maintenance issues that could cause an accident, and the driver knows it, he or she could be held liable for any resulting injuries or damages. Maintenance issues may include improperly inflated or bald tires, a cracked windshield, faulty brakes, and worn out brake pads.
  • Negligent drivers: Careless or distracted drivers also cause Uber and Lyft Poor driving behaviors, such as speeding and aggressive driving, have been linked to multiple Uber and Lyft accidents.
  • Drivers who are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs: Although not as common, there have been reports of Uber and Lyft drivers who have transported customers while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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Driverless cars will likely be the main mode of transportation in the future, but that future may be a bit more distant than expected. A self-driving taxi pilot project in Las Vegas ended with less-than-desirable results last week. After only a few hours of shuttling people around the city, the driverless van collided with a delivery truck as it was backing into an alley to make a delivery. According to the initial investigation, the human driver did something that the robot car couldn’t have anticipated.

Last Wednesday, the pod-like shuttle was on day one of offering complimentary rides around a small loop in Vegas. No one was injured in the collision, but it is cause for concern. It also brings to light a glaring issue that designers of driverless vehicles have yet to figure out – how can self-driving vehicles effectively interact with those driven by humans?

“This is exactly the kind of real-world scenario that this pilot is attempting to learn from,” said John Moreno, AAA spokesman. “This is one of the most advanced pieces of technology on the planet, and it’s just now learning how to interact with humans and human driving.”

Robots Don’t Understand Nonverbal Communication

The reality is, humans use nonverbal communication signals when driving every day. The truck, which was backing up when it shouldn’t have been, collided into the driverless pod stopped behind it. Had a human been driving the pod, he or she would have likely given in to the truck’s nonverbal request to “get out of my way,” by backing up. Had there not been another vehicle behind the pod, it may have done the same. However, the pod appeared to freeze in place, unable to determine how to react – can’t move forward, can’t back up.

According to a reporter who was on board at the time of the incident, a human would have probably responded differently. “We had about 20 feet of empty street behind us (I looked) and most human drivers would have thrown the car into reverse and used some of that space to get away from the truck,” wrote Jeff Zurschmeide, a reporter for Digitaltrends.com. “Or at least leaned on the horn and made our presence harder to miss. The shuttle didn’t have those responses in its program.”

Police arrived at the scene, issuing a ticket to the truck driver.

The purpose the the AAA-sponsored pilot program is to expose riders to driverless technology and determine how these vehicles perform in real-world situations. There is a human operator on board during the pilot rides, but the incident simply happened too quickly for the operator to react. A Boston car accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

The Las Vegas pilot project incident isn’t the first crash involving a driverless car. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) criticized Tesla Inc.’s semi-autonomous systems in September, referencing a fatal 2016 accident involving the Tesla Model S. The Model S allows the driver to go “hands-free” for an extended period. Basically, it can steer itself. Unfortunately, a driver in Florida was killed when his Model S, which was steering itself at the time, crashed into a truck. NTSB ruled that, although the human drivers were the main cause of the accident, the autopilot design was a contributing factor.

This recent self-driving accident in Las Vegas shows the difficulties that driverless vehicles have when it comes to nonverbal communication. This type of communication occurs with great frequency between human drivers every day. The truck driver may not have seen the pod, but it’s more likely that he expected it to move.

“He probably had an expectation that the shuttle would back off and allow him to do his thing,” said Duke University robotics professor Missy Cummings. “Obviously that doesn’t work. There wasn’t the logic inside this little shuttle to anticipate this.” A MA auto accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

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