Do Uber Apps Increase Distracted Driving?

January 11, 2020
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Uber has completely changed the landscape of commuting in the United States.  

This easy-to-use app service allows riders to request a ride in a matter of seconds. When a ride is selected, available Uber drivers receive a ‘driver alert.’ If the driver accepts, the rider is notified, and the Uber is there to pick them up in no time.  

Uber and other ride sharing companies have become one of the most convenient methods of transportation in the world, but this convenience may come at a cost. Safety advocates are becoming concerned about drivers becoming distracted by the Uber app, and the dangers they could pose to others on the road.  

Uber Apps Create Distracted Drivers 

Distracted driving is one of the deadliest behaviors on the road. In 2017, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported over 34,000 accidents linked to distracted driving. Among these, 3,166 people were killed.  

Cellphones are often the biggest culprit leading to distractions behind the wheel. The National Safety Council reported nearly 390,000 Americans are injured every year as a result of using cellphones while driving.  

Looking at your phone for even a second puts drivers at risk for missing hazards leading to accidents. Yet, Uber drivers may do this several times throughout a ride.  

Ride alerts, directions, and payments are all processed through the Uber app. Most drivers report receiving ride requests while in the middle of another ride. If they don’t accept quickly, their chance of earning a profit from the request is lost. If they don’t decline quickly, they risk the chance of getting bad reviews and losing future rides. 

The Uber app requires several seconds of driver inattention to respond to alerts, make a plan, accept or decline rides, and figure out where they are supposed to be going. For every second a driver is glancing away from the road, the chance of a fatal road accident increases.  

Three Types of Distractions 

There are three types of distractions known for leading to fatal accidents on the road. Uber drivers who are distracted by the app are often guilty of all three at the same time.  

These distractions include:  

  • Manual: Manual distractions are the act of taking your hands off the wheel. Uber drivers do this to interact with the app on their phone.  
  • Visual: Visual distractions are when drivers take their eyes off the road. Uber drivers must do this to look at the rider alert or what they are manually typing. 
  • Cognitive: Cognitive distractions include thinking about something other than driving. Uber drivers do this when they are determining whether or not to accept a ride or mapping out the route in their heads.  

The more activity an Uber driver receives through the app, the more opportunities for distracted driving accidents to occur. There are over 900,000 active Uber drivers across the country. Some drivers work anywhere from 1 to 50+ hours a week, and all possess the goal of picking up as many riders as possible to turn a profit.  

Distracted Driving Is Worse Than Drunk Driving 

Uber rides have become especially popular for people who are looking to get home safely after a night of drinking. In fact, safety advocates have encouraged Americans for years to use Uber to decrease the prevalence of drunk driving accidents.  

But distracted Uber drivers behind the wheel are no safer than the drunken passengers in the backseat. Much like drunk drivers, distracted drivers display reckless driving habits, including:  

  • speeding 
  • swerving 
  • neglecting to use turn signals 
  • hard stops 
  • hard accelerations 
  • failure to yield 
  • failure to stop 

All of these aggressive driving behaviors increase the chance of a serious or fatal traffic accident. And with a good chance that an Uber driver has one or several passengers in their vehicle, even more victims are put in harm’s way.  

Uber Drivers Are Not Multitasking  

Uber drivers who believe they are excellent multitaskers in the car are mistaken. According to the American Psychological Association (A.P.A.), multitasking is more of a myth than a skill. 

A.P.A. studies have found that participating in two complex tasks at the same time, such as checking the Uber app and driving, splits your productivity 50/50 between the two tasks. Neither task receives the full attention required to perform correctly.  

Checking a phone while driving can also lead to a phenomenon called inattention blindness. The N.S.C. reports inattention blindness occurs when a person is cognitively distracted and fails to process up to 50 percent of the information in their driving environment. In this case, Uber drivers miss the opportunity to act on road hazards they might have otherwise seen if they were fully paying attention.  

Connecticut Uber Accident Attorneys 

Distracted driving accidents are 100% preventable. The challenges Uber drivers are faced with to earn an income through the app are unfortunate. But there is nothing worth the risk of taking someone’s life that could constitute distracted driving habits. If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident due to the negligence of a distracted Uber driver, you could be eligible for compensation for any damages sustained.  

As Connecticut personal injury experts, we always have your best interests and safety in mind. Our aggressive attorneys at Jacobs & Wallace will help you fight back by providing a free case evaluation to explore all your options for seeking justice against reckless distracted drivers. Contact us today for a free consultation and to explore your rights for justice.  

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