To curb drowsy driving, the app goes offline after 12 hours on the road. With its latest app update, Uber is forcing US drivers to take a six hour break after working 12 straight hours. The company implemented a similar feature in the UK earlier this year, but lets American drivers work two hours longer. The app will issue three warnings, starting after 10 hours of straight driving, before going offline and forcing drivers to stop. The aim is to put a halt to drowsy driving that causes 4,000 accidents a year, the company said in a statement. The feature will count most driving time, including being stopped at a light, with the exception of a few things like when you're waiting in an airport parking lot. Uber said it drew on driver experience and road safety groups to calculate the totals. "There's definitely a lot of third-party expertise that has gone into our thinking," Uber safety head Sachin Kansal told TechCrunch. " But it's also that we know how our drivers drive, we know road conditions, so we have baked all that into it as well. " The change won't affect most drivers, as over 60 percent don't use Uber more than 10 hours a day. It's quite likely that the app won't even stop those who work more than 12 hours. Sherpashare, a driver assistant app, estimated that nearly three-quarters of drivers use more than one service. That would enable them to, say, use Uber for the first part of a day, then flip to another and keep working as long as they want. Nevertheless, Uber put a lot of thought into the feature before implementing it in the US. Based on data it gathered in the UK, Australia and elsewhere, it introduced the extra notifications so that the limit doesn't surprise drivers when they hit it. Rival Lyft offers a similar feature, but lets drivers operate 14 hours before shutting them off and doesn't offer as many notifications.
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.