Of course, theres nothing stopping drivers from switching to Lyft. In a blog post, the company said it will strengthen our approach to help keep riders and drivers safe on the road while preserving the flexibility drivers tell us they love. The post added that 60 percent of its drivers are only on the road for 10 hours or less per week. By contrast, federal regulations stipulate that bus drivers may only drive 10 consecutive hours after having had eight hours off duty. However, there is nothing stopping an Uber driver from driving 12 hours and then immediately switching to Lyft to keep working. (Many drivers work for both companies, often toggling between the two.) Lyft, however, already sets a mandatory six-hour break for every 14 hours of driving. Some states have separate rules, which the app will also take into account: for example, Virginia imposes a maximum of 13 hours of driving during a 24-hour period. Uber did not answer Ars question as to how many drivers work more than 12 hours at a stretch. I dont have any data to share today on that, wrote Susan Hendrick, an Uber spokeswoman, in an email to Ars. But even one crash is too many, as recent reports suggest. Its an issue for all who share the road. We want to encourage people to use Uber responsibly.
Uber has added a feature that will force a six-hour offline break whenever a driver on its platform reaches 12 hours of driving time. The feature is similar to one that Uber has in place in a few markets already around the U.S., which differs depending on local regulations, but this will apply across the U.S., and fully block use of the driver app for accepting trips during the six-hour period when it becomes active. Ubers decision to roll this out was made as a response to the problem of drowsy driving and driver fatigue, both of which are issues that continue to affect people on the road, even if driving while using mobile devices and intoxicated driving get more press and scrutiny. The Uber feature implementation will trigger when a driver has driven 12 hours without taking a continual, six-hour break at any point between. Drivers will have full visibility into how much driving theyve done according to Uber, which measures based on a number of factors, and will count things like when youre stopped at a stoplight (your brain is still engaged in the driving activity, even if youre temporarily stopped), but wont count time spent waiting in an airport parking lot to be called for a pickup, for instance, since many drivers use these as napping and rest opportunities. Ubers Head of Safety Product Sachin Kansal explained that the company relied on its ample experience with drivers and working with road safety organizations in determining what does and doesnt count towards a users total driving time. Theres definitely a lot of third-party expertise that has gone into our thinking, Kansal said in an interview. But its also that we know how our drivers drive, we know road conditions, so we have baked all that into it as well. This limit likely wont impact the majority of drivers on its platform, the company notes, because around 60 percent of its drivers dont even use Uber over 10 hours per week, but Kansal tells me that a relatively small number do tip the scales as heavy users. The company wants to do its part to address this safety issue, however, Kansal tells me, and to do so proactively, even where its not specifically required by local bylaws. Uber has studied the feature where implemented in other markets (including Australia, where it launched previously) and built this U.S.-facing version with a lot of feedback in mind. Thats why the app will provide notifications when youre nearing that 12 hour limit, effectively counting down so that its fully transparent and not surprising to a driver when they max out. When the six-hour break is over, the app will once again unlock itself for bookings. Also, where different rules are required by local law, those will apply instead of this new cross-U.S. limit. Rival Lyft has a driver limit in place, too, which mandates a six-hour break for every 14 hours spent in driver mode, but its not as granular as Ubers. Uber says it also plans to evaluate continued international rollout on an ongoing basis, and to expect this change to be introduced gradually across the driver app in the U.S. over the next few weeks.