Two million U.S. drivers admitted to nodding off at the wheel of their car in a two-week period back in 2016, according to a report by the National Sleep Foundation. This finding led to some high-profile campaigns, including one by the mighty Uber, which has sought to raise awareness about the dangers of drowsy driving. Today, the ride-hailing giant has revealed that its ramping things up a notch by restricting its U.S. drivers to a maximum 12 hours of driving time before theyre forced offline for a six-hour break. This mirrors a similar move made by the company in the U.K. last month. Uber claimed that nearly two-thirds of its U.S. drivers actually drive less than 10 hours a week for the platform anyway, but it didnt reveal how many actively drive for longer than 12 hours at a time. Whats most interesting about the new policy is that its more than a recommendation. The drivers app will be pushed offline once the 12-hour driving limit has been reached, and they wont be allowed online again for six hours. This move will strengthen our approach to helping keep riders and drivers safe on the road while preserving the flexibility drivers tell us they love, said Uber product director Sachin Kansal, in a blog post. Drivers will see notifications on their screen periodically after 10 hours, and when they hit their 12-hour limit, their shift will be automatically ended. Even if a driver does punctuate their shift with sporadic shorter breaks, it appears that the 12 hour limit will still apply: The only way to reset the clock is by taking an uninterrupted six-hour break. On paper, this seems like a great move by Uber, but in reality drivers will likely find ways around it. They could, for example, switch between different ride-hailing services, so when their times up with Uber they turn on Lyft. Moreover, there is nothing stopping drivers from moonlighting — working their normal job during the day, then driving for Uber at night — and theres no way of knowing how well-rested a driver really is. But there is only so much Uber can do to prevent its drivers working while fatigued. Everyone knows that drinking and driving is dangerous, but many dont know the risks or warning signs of drowsy driving, added Kansal. Our Community Guidelines make clear that its important to take a break when feeling tired on the road. Weve also piloted features like an in-app notification that reminds drivers of this.
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.