Ridesharing Industry and Drowsy Driving

Driver catching up on rest in the backseat of a vehicle

Researchers Say Auto Accident Injuries From Drowsy Driving Are a Serious Concern in the Ridesharing Industry

If you live in New York, Philadelphia, or another major metro area, chances are you regularly use ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. When you use your app to hire a ride, you may not be thinking about the risks of a drowsy driver pulling up to take you to your desired location, or the potential injury after a car accident that can result. However, according to a recent article in Science Daily, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued a position statement addressing the serious risks of fatigued driving in the ridesharing industry. In other words, a drowsy Uber or Lyft driver could cause a severe auto accident injury and put your safety at risk.

Many of us have heard about the risks of drowsy driving or fatigued driving. If we do not get enough sleep before we get behind the wheel, we could be involved in a serious traffic collision and suffer a severe injury after a car accident. We also often hear about drowsy driving risks for truckers who spend long hours behind the wheel. As a report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states, driver fatigue is often a common cause of trucking crashes. Yet Uber and Lyft drivers are also on the road for long hours, and many work late or overnight shifts to make money. As the article emphasizes, “both sleep deprivation and circadian influences leave ridesharing drivers at risk for drowsy driving.”

Ridesharing drivers drive for Uber or Lyft as a second job, resulting in “extended periods of wakefulness.” Since Uber and Lyft drivers are independent contractors, they are not subject to the kinds of regulations that long-haul truckers must abide by. This also then leaves the driver more vulnerable to car accident lawsuits as the question of who is at fault is not as clear. According to Dr. Indira Gurubhagavatula, the senior author on the study and an associate professor in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, drowsy driving and the ridesharing industry amounts to “a public safety issue.” As Dr. Gurubhagavatula explains, “low fares and salary incentives compel drivers to continue driving past their safety limits.” As such, drivers “may be unaware of the huge risks they are taking or have the false belief that sleep is overrated.” At the same time, customers rarely question whether an Uber or Lyft driver is too sleepy to be working. Again, the resulting confusion can have implications when it comes to legal proceedings and car accident lawsuits.

Get the Facts About Drowsy Driving

The FMCSA provides facts about drowsy driving, including the following:

  • There is a documented relationship between a person’s hours of sleep, work schedule, and drowsy driving accident risk;
  • Working a night shift increases a driver’s chances of being involved in a drowsy driving crash;
  • People who have obstructive sleep apnea have a higher risk of being involved in a crash and experiencing an auto accident injury than others;
  • People typically cannot tell when they are about to fall asleep behind the wheel;
  • Having wandering or disconnected thoughts can be a sign that you may fall asleep while you are driving; and
  • Even safe drivers, regardless of their experience, can fall asleep at the wheel if they do not get enough hours or sleep.

If you or someone you love was injured in a drowsy driving crash and suffered an injury after a car accident, you should discuss your case with a car accident lawyer to determine your rights.

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