In order to prevent drowsy driving and improve safety, Uber is going to limit drivers in the US to a maximum of 12 hours a shift, after which itll block them from the service for six hours in the hopes that theyll take a break and recharge their batteries before getting back behind the wheel. Thats a commendable move from the ride-hailing company, and its good to see Uber taking the issue of driver fatigue seriously. However, its only rolling this out in the US for now – where nearly 60 percent of drivers use the service for under 10 hours a week. Ideally, Uber should turn on this feature for its drivers across the globe in order to prevent accidents and improve their well-being. But it may not be quite as simple as flipping a switch. Some Uber drivers Ive spoken to recently in major cities in India, including Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, and New Delhi, say that they routinely work long shifts because they have car loans to pay off – loans they didnt have to worry about until they signed up to drive for Uber. The promises about earnings that they heard before they joined or moved cities for havent been fulfilled. and the incentives that the company offers for completing a stipulated number of rides or serving a stipulated number of passengers keep changing – and they mostly become more difficult to achieve than before. While these drivers could certainly use a break – for their own safety, as well as for that of their passengers and others on the road – they also need a more stable source of income that doesnt cause as many sleepless nights as their long shifts. That may take a while, because cab companies are still battling each other by offering riders low fares and discounts. Heres hoping new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi can figure out a better way to do business around the world.
In an effort to combat drowsy driving, Uber announced today that it would require its most frequent drivers to take six-hour breaks after driving for 12 hours straight. Uber is updating the driver version of the app so that it logs off after counting 12 hours of driving, and drivers will not be able to log on until after the app registers six hours offline. The update is expected to roll out nationally over a two-week period. Drivers will also receive a warning after 10 hours of driving to let them know they are approaching the 12-hour limit. A second warning will come after the 11th hour, and a third notification will serve as a 30-minute warning. Uber is framing its new policy as an effort to combat drowsy driving. The companys announcement includes statistics from the National Sleep Foundation and quotes from representatives of the Governors Highway Safety Association. Drowsy driving is the cause of up to 6,000 fatal crashes annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. We want to keep our riders and drivers safe, said Sachin Kansal, Ubers Director of Product Management, told The Washington Post. The approach we have taken is irrespective of whos responsible for managing this. We want to help the drivers manage that in the app so they have all the visibility, so they know how much they can drive and when they need to go offline. Kansal said the app will measure driving time using GPS and telematics to detect whether the vehicle is moving. Short waits, such as those at stoplights, will count against workers driving time. But longer waits such as those in airport cues, and other idling exceeding five minutes, will not count. Because the clock is cumulative, a driver can be prompted to take a break even if they havent driven driven for 12 hours consecutively. For example, someone who has picked up fares in two, six-hour spurts — without taking six hours of rest in between — would have their app disabled after the second leg. Uber rolled out a similar policy in New York City in 2016, in which drivers who are on the road longer than 12 hours risked temporary deactivation. The policy followed a New York Post article that tracked a handful of Uber drivers who reported driving 16–19 hours a day. Meanwhile, Uber drivers in the UK are required to take six-hour breaks after 10-hour shifts in a new policy enacted earlier this year.