Uber, Lyft, and Your Safety: The “FYI” List

Automobile Accidents | Lyft | Rideshare | Uber

By Steven J. Anglés

May 28, 2019

If the statistics are right, we are all using ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft more often than ever before, and more often than other forms of paid transportation. It’s a big reason why both businesses just became publicly traded companies. Here’s a quick list of some important pieces of information involving your safety to keep in mind next time you decide to turn on your phone app and request a ride:

  • Many Uber & Lyft drivers don’t respond to vehicle safety recalls. One out of six Uber and Lyft drivers in the Seattle area are driving vehicles with outstanding recalls, according to a recent article by Consumer Reports.[1] These recalls include vehicle safety features that may not function properly including airbags, engines, and components that may lead to car fires. One in six is also the national average for private, non-ride-share vehicles. But, should a company worth billions of dollars be okay with its vehicles being only as safe as any other average car, and no safer? Uber indicates it requires drivers to stop using vehicles subject to recalls that come with a “do not drive” warning. Is that really enough?
  • Germs are bumming a ride with you.  A recent USA Today story shared that the backseats of ride-share vehicles have about 219 times as many germs as an average taxi.[2] They had three times more germs than a toothbrush holder and more than 35,000 times more than the average toilet seat. Most germs are on the window buttons and seatbelts. By comparison, taxis are required to be regularly cleaned. The lesson: bring your hand sanitizer!
  • Always play the “Matching Game”.  Before you get inside a ride-share vehicle, always make sure that the vehicle’s license plate, driver photo, and driver name all match up to what you saw on your app. That way you know the driver is legit.
  • It’s still the “Wild West” when it comes to insurance for injured drivers and passengers.  Back in 2015, we wrote an article explaining the new laws that were passed in Washington state requiring companies like Uber and Lyft to provide mandatory insurance for drivers and passengers that are hurt in a car crash.[3] Since then, these companies have taken advantage of loopholes that were never intended by the lawmakers who passed this legislation. In many cases, the drivers themselves aren’t aware of the problem until it’s too late. These loopholes sometimes result in drivers and passengers not being covered by Uber or Lyft insurance for their injuries. Taxis aren’t perfect situations either, but they are subject to a few more insurance requirements under the law. If you have your own auto insurance policy with coverages such as PIP (personal injury protection), this might be your only way to get your medical treatment paid for right away if you are hurt in a ride-share vehicle.

[1] https://m.seattlepi.com/news/article/Report-Many-Uber-Lyft-drivers-fail-to-respond-13867502.php

[2] https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2019/05/10/uber-lyft-germs-health-safety/1128117001/

[3] https://www.adlergiersch.com/provider-blog/new-law-affecting-uber-and-lyft-ridesharing-insurance-coverage/