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Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP

Cab Hailing Apps Like Uber: Are They a Distracted Driving Risk?

Many taxi drivers and other people who make their living driving passengers from one place to another have increasingly been using their smart phones in order to get fares, and many of their passengers are using hailing services like Uber to get a ride. As soon as the request has come through to Uber, it is passed on to the nearest registered taxi driver.

The downside of using an intermediary such as Uber is that the driver needs to respond within 15 seconds if he or she wishes to get the fare. That means the driver’s brain is multitasking as they first have to determine if the fare is close enough to their current position to warrant taking up the request, and they also have to coordinate themselves to tap the phone as a means of accepting a fare. All this has to be completed in a paltry 15 seconds.

Safety and road conditions and driving the car well become secondary in that 15 second period. If the driver fails to respond in 15 seconds, the fare will be directed by Uber to a different driver. In New York failing to respond to a number of calls in a row can mean being temporarily suspended by Uber.

Earlier this month, a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge was handed out to an Uber driver who struck and killed a child on a San Francisco crosswalk. There is, as a result, a wrongful death lawsuit pending against Uber for the death of the child, Sofia Liu. The claim is that the services offered by the company conflict with the use of electronic devices used in vehicles which are handheld and amount to negligence.

Abdoulrahime Diallo, a New York driver and an Uber Drivers Network organizer, said that the app hadn’t brought about any difficulties for him as it was simply a matter of working out where the fare was, touching the message, and accepting it. But he did say that the action could be distracting if the driver is actually driving and has to look down at the phone.

That short time lapse could be devastating if driving conditions were far from perfect at the time. Any passengers could be at risk, while pedestrians and other road users could be part of an accident that they didn’t ask for. Time will tell whether Uber and other similar apps are causing more accidents and injuries as drivers put cash before their passengers.

In the meantime if you have been injured while either travelling in a taxi or you have been in collision with a taxi in your own vehicle and the accident was not your fault and you live in the New York or Long Island area, you may be entitled to file a claim for compensation for the financial losses as a result of your injuries. You should contact Richard S. Jaffe Esq. who is an experienced personal injury attorney, and he will assess your case for a compensation claim.

You can contact him for a free consultation at the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe LLP, 2001 Marcus Avenue, Suite W295, Lake Success, NY 11042. Phone: 516-358-6900 or toll free: 800-483-6149.

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