With the development of countless technologies such as smart phones, GPS, and other devices over the past decade, distracted driving has become a huge issue. Throughout the U.S., automobile accidents are caused each day by a driver not paying full attention to the road. Fortunately, many organizations have teamed up in recent years to bombard the general public with pleas to avoid distracted driving and to avoid using cell phones and other technologies while behind the wheel of a vehicle. For instance, the “It Can Wait” campaign sponsored by companies such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless was a huge success in causing motor vehicle drivers to keep their attention on the road so that serious injuries and deaths could be avoided as a result of distracted driving.
Unfortunately, not all drivers abide by these guidelines. A growing trend in the U.S. is the use of car and taxi services such as Uber and Lyft. These companies provide car services quickly to customers who visit the mobile app or otherwise contact the company requesting a driver. While this is an excellent way for people to avoid a drinking and driving situation, other safety concerns have recently come to light when using Uber and other car services.
After customers request a driving service via the mobile app, drivers of these companies must answer very quickly so that they get the business of that particular customer. For instance, Uber drivers receive a loud beeping alert on their mobile phones when a service call comes in. The driver then has approximately 15 seconds to accept the fare by tapping the phone. Before they accept the fare, however, the driver more than likely looks at the phone to see what distance the potential customer is from them, making a decision, and then clicking the appropriate button to accept the fare. In many cities, drivers can even be temporarily suspended if they do not respond to numerous calls in a row. Obviously, this poses a threat to passengers already in the vehicle, as well as motorists near the distracted driver. There have been multiple lawsuits against Uber and Lyft drivers for deaths of pedestrians struck by these drivers. The plaintiffs in these claims believe that the drivers were distracted by accepting other fares when the accidents occurred.
While Uber and other car service companies have begun implementing voice recognition/activation software for drivers, there are still risks of distracted driving when drivers must concentrate on anything other than the roadway and their driving. Jones & Swanson urges all drivers to use extreme caution while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Even a second’s distraction can cause a serious auto accident.