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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.