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Are Uber Drivers Being Pressured to Work Excessively Long Hours?

According to the Oxford Dictionaries Online, “ridesharing” is an arrangement in which a passenger travels in a private vehicle driven by its owner, for free or a fee, as arranged by means of a website or app. Without a doubt, rideshare services have become more mainstream over the last couple years, and the industry shows no signs of slowing down. It seems like everyone knows the name Uber nowadays, and most people have also heard of Lyft. What you might not have heard of, however, is anything about limits on the kinds of hours Uber drivers are allowed to work. That's because they currently operate within a loophole that allows drivers to work without any kind of cap. The result: many Uber drivers are uber exhausted.

Because rideshare companies are not common carriers and those who drive for them are not employees, federal protections limiting work periods do not apply. These loopholes combine with low pay and tempting incentives to cause many drivers to work long hours day after day. Many are left chronically fatigued and present real danger behind the wheel.

Uber claims that just 7 percent of its drivers work in excess of 50 hours per week, and that more than half of them use the app less than 10 hours each week. However, drivers can technically work around the clock. Motivated by low pay, attractive incentives, or even threats of being disqualified for declining trip requests, many choose

Because rideshare companies are not common carriers and those who drive for them are not employees, federal protections limiting work periods do not apply. These loopholes combine with low pay and tempting incentives to cause many drivers to work long hours day after day. Many are left chronically fatigued and present real danger behind the wheel.

to work long shifts. In contrast, Lyft drivers who drive for more than 14 hours are denied access to the app for six hours and thereby are forced to take a break.

One of the problems is that rideshare companies are not legally considered to be common carriers. That means they are not subject to federal transportation laws requiring “passenger-carrying commercial vehicles” to drive no more than 10 consecutive hours or to take a break that lasts a minimum of 8 hours in between shifts. It also means that it’s the drivers, not the companies, who are liable for passenger safety. Another complication is that drivers are considered independent contractors, not employees. Therefore, drivers are not subject to federal labor laws that permit average working weeks of no more than 48 hours, and rideshare companies are not obligated to pay overtime or restrict number of working hours.

Fatigue is a real problem for drivers, which is a huge danger for motorists and passengers alike. According to an estimate by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 100,000 car accidents each year are direct results of driver fatigue. While there isn't any data to connect rideshare service drivers to a percentage of this statistic, certainly the sample is representative enough to make a good point about safety.

Being tired affects many aspects of proper motor vehicle operation, including slowed reaction times, diminished ability to process encounters, inattentiveness, and impaired judgment.

Efforts to limit rideshare drivers’ hours are beginning to pop up across the country. The Chicago City Council, for example, restricted daily driving for rideshare services to 10 hours a day back in 2014. Last year, Uber agreed to limit their drivers' workdays to 12 hours in New York City to match the laws taxi drivers are expected to follow. Massachusetts has proposed to limit drivers to 12 consecutive hours or 16 total hours in a day. While these common safety regulations are a step in the right direction, limiting the hours that drivers can be logged into an app does not prevent them from switching to another rideshare company when their time is up.

The legal issues surrounding rideshare accidents are highly complex, making it critical to seek the advice of an attorney familiar with this emerging area of law. As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, Stabinski & Funt, P.A. has helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities and remedies. We are highly experienced in handling car accident claims, and we work on a contingency basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you. Learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you by contacting us for a free consultation. Call 305-964-8644 or fill out a case evaluation form.

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