The use of rideshare services is on the rise across the country. Rideshares such as Uber and Lyft are popular nowadays for the convenience and easy access they offer. With these ridesharing services, inconveniences drivers typically worry about—such as the rising cost of fuel and the lack of parking spaces, can be set aside, at least temporarily.
It also offers an alternative for those who usually take public transportation such as buses and trains which tend to be full during rush hour. However, there have been recent changes in rideshare law. These are changes all rideshare passengers should be aware of. Unfortunately, Florida also has quite a high incident rate, which means the chance of Uber and Lyft accidents occurring also increases. Know your rights as a rideshare passenger, the top rideshares - commonly are lyft and uber safety tips in Florida, and what to do if you are ever involved in an Uber or Lyft vehicle accident.
Recent Ridesharing Law
HB 221: “the Uber/Lyft Bill”
A recent law has created different ridesharing requirements for all transportation network companies (TNC) operating within Florida. In May of 2017, Governor Scott signed HB 221, better known as the Uber/Lyft Bill. The legislation outlines standard operating procedures for ridesharing companies throughout Florida, involving both motorist background checks and insurance coverages.
The following are the current requirements for all ridesharing companies operating in Florida:
- Display license plate number and picture of the driver, visible before the passenger gets into the vehicle
- Implement a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol and/or drug use while driving
- All drivers on the National Sex Offender Public Website are banned from operation
- Run criminal background checks on every potential driver
- Examine driving history and accident reports for each potential driver
These new guidelines are meant to protect passengers and other drivers from reckless or irresponsible rideshare drivers and to ensure their safety and well-being.
Under the new guidelines, rideshare drivers are subject to higher liability insurance minimums than normal drivers. Rideshare drivers must obtain the following:
- $25,000 for property damage
- $50,000 for bodily injury and death (per person)
- $100,000 for bodily injury and death (per accident)
The goal of these increased insurance requirements is to provide more protection for those injured in a vehicular accident caused by rideshare drivers.
Top 7 Lyft and Uber Safety Tips in Florida
However, despite the increased requirements, there are also many other limitations to the law and other factors you should consider when using a rideshare service. Here are our top ten lyft/uber safety tips.
- Check the Display: As noted above, every rideshare driver now has to display their car’s license plate number as well as their own picture. Always make sure that the driver of the Uber or Lyft vehicle that you are going to ride in is complying with this law. As the license plate of the vehicle is on display and indicated in the app when you book a ride, make sure that the two match to ensure that you are getting inside the correct vehicle. Next, make sure to confirm the name of your driver. Their name will be on display once you book your ride so before you get inside the vehicle, you may ask them for their names first. Lastly, the photo of the driver is on display as well, so take the extra step of inspecting that the one on the photo and the person actually driving the vehicle are one and the same. If there is any discrepancy in any of these details, do not get on the ride.
- Check the Vehicle: As taxi and limousine companies have noted, rideshare vehicles are not held to the same level of inspection rigor and safety standards. This means that the vehicle you may be about to ride in may have an automotive dysfunction due to negligent or improper maintenance. In the absence of a rigorous vehicle check, you might need to visually check the vehicle yourself. Look for external damage, such as very obvious dents in the vehicle. This might also clue you in on the kind of driver they may be. Once you’re inside the vehicle, if there are suspicious noises coming from the vehicle, you can always decide to get out should you feel that your safety is compromised inside the vehicle.
- Assess the Driver: Although now there is a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol or drugs for the rideshare driver, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are compliant with this rule. In order to keep yourself safe when riding an Uber, Lyft, or any ridesharing service, it always pays to be extra alert. You may inspect your driver for any signs of being under the influence of a substance by checking for signs such as the smell of alcohol in them, bloodshot eyes, and the coherence in the way that they speak.
- Buckle Up: Wearing a seatbelt is a smart thing to do, not only because it is the law, but because it could save your life. According to DMV Florida, the state has seatbelt laws which say that all front-seat passengers must be wearing a seatbelt, as well as anyone under eighteen years of age. The cost for violating a seatbelt law can be up to $30. Always make sure your driver is buckled up, along with other passengers. Even if you are riding in the backseat of the car, it is still best to wear a seatbelt. Seatbelts save lives.
- Let Someone Know: As with any form of stranger-operated single transportation, such as a taxi, Uber or Lyft, let someone know when you’re taking it and where you’re going. A key feature of these apps is that you may share the status of the ride with your loved ones, friends, or anyone you’re meeting up with. Details that are shared include the driver’s name, license plate, and even their photo. With this feature, the person you share the details with may track your location and expected time of arrival, and should anything untoward take place, the people you have notified will know something has gone wrong and will be able to assist in the case of an accident.
- Don’t Give Out Private Information: While this seems like a no-brainer to some, some drivers tend to get chatty and in the moment, without meaning to, we let sensitive information about ourselves slip. For an assortment of reasons, avoid talking about private information such as your family, friends, occupation, phone numbers, emails, and other specific details. Keep the talk pleasant, about neutral topics and you’ll have a safe, enjoyable ride.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Get Out: There are various reasons for wanting to get out of an Uber or Lyft ride despite the trip not having been completed yet. It may be because the driver’s driving skills do not make you feel safe, they are taking a route that you are not familiar with, or their demeanor towards you makes you seem hostile. If their driving is not okay, or if the driver is harassing you, or even just generally making you uncomfortable, ask them to pull over and let you out in a well-lit public area. You do not have to stay in a situation that you are not comfortable with. Always trust your gut. Keep in mind that your safety when riding these vehicles should be the top priority. Ridesharing companies suggest passengers to ride in the backseat, especially those who ride alone, as this gives them the chance to get out on either side of the vehicle.
Once you get out of the vehicle, you may report the incident to the company via the app that you are using. You may send a complaint, telling them that the planned trip was not completed and you may state the reason for such. This will notify the company of their drivers’ transgressions and give them the opportunity to rectify such and discipline the erring driver. In some cases, you may even get compensation in the form of refunds for the cost of the ride.
Uber and Lyft Accidents and Finding a Personal Injury Attorney in Destin, Florida
While Uber and Lyft users and drivers are on the rise, so too are traffic accidents in Florida. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents cost the state $32 million in 2013 medical costs alone. In 2016, there was an average of 1,081 crashes per day in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). Getting even more specific, in Crestview’s county, Okaloosa, there were 21 fatalities, 2,024 injuries, and 3,214 crashes in just 2016, according to the DHSMV.
The likelihood that you may be in a rideshare vehicle which also happens to get into an accident, is quite a serious prospect to consider. This is where a personal injury attorney in Destin, Florida comes in. A personal injury attorney at Browning Law Firm can help you if you have been involved in a rideshare accident involving Uber and Lyft. Please do not hesitate to contact us today.