The use of rideshare services is on the rise across the country. Rideshares such as Uber and Lyft are popular for their convenience and easy access. However, there are have been recent changes in rideshare law. These are changes all rideshare passengers should be aware of. Unfortunately, Florida also has a quite high incident rate, which means the chance of Uber and Lyft accidents occurring also increases. Know your rideshare rights, the top rideshare safety tips in Florida, and what to do if you’re 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.
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 Rideshare 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 rideshare 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 Uber or Lyft vehicle that you are going to ride in is complying with this law.
- Check the Vehicle: As taxi and limousine companies note, rideshare vehicles are not held to the same level of inspection rigor. This means that the vehicle you may be about to ride in my have an automotive dysfunction due to negligent or improper maintenance. Without a rigorous vehicle check, you need to visually check the vehicle yourself. Look for external damage. Once you’re in the vehicle, if there are suspicious noises from the vehicle, you can always decide to get out.
- 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 will comply. Check the driver for any signs of substance abuse, looking for signs such as smell.
- Buckle Up: Buckling up 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. 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. If anything goes wrong, 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: This seems like common sense, but sometimes our drivers can be so talkative that we get chatty and let information slip. Talking about private lives, jobs, specific places or residences is not a good idea, for an assortment of reasons. Keep the talk pleasant, about neutral topics and you’ll have a safe, enjoyable ride.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Get Out: If their driving is not okay, or if the driver is harassing you, or even just 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 which you are not comfortable with.
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.