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.
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.