New Year’s Eve Brings New Risks for Rideshare Drivers

Console and Associates, P.C.
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Taking an Uber or Lyft home from the bar, club, or party on New Year’s Eve is a smart and responsible decision when a person has been drinking. However, for rideshare drivers themselves, the last night of the year can hold a lot of risks.

If you drive for Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare service, be alert for drunk drivers on the road and for intoxicated passengers who could become aggressive.

Drunk Driving Dangers for Rideshare Drivers on New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is a popular time to work as a rideshare driver. Drivers who take on a lot of fares can make great money during the relatively short time from late evening on New Year’s Eve to early morning on New Year’s Day. The tradeoff is that you may be taking on a lot of risk working as an Uber or Lyft driver during this night of partying. Although you may be performing the same function as a designated driver dropping off friends after a party, you’re likely to be on the road, and potentially in the path of less responsible motorists, for a much longer portion of the evening.

Every fare you accept means one (or more) less drunk driver on the road. Still, the reality is that not all partygoers who have had too much to drink will arrange a sober ride home. Some intoxicated drivers will still make the unfortunate and illegal decision to get behind the wheel. As you’re spending your New Year’s Eve ferrying other people safely to and from their gatherings, you could wind up in the path of one of these irresponsible, impaired motorists.

Every year, dozens of Americans lose their lives in drunk driving accidents on New Year’s Eve, and hundreds of people die in drunk driving-related traffic fatalities during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Although drunk driving is a dangerous problem every night of the year and during every time of day, it’s a particular concern on New Year’s Eve, when the alcohol is flowing for hours at parties, clubs, and bars.

Rideshare Drivers and New Year’s Eve Violence

Sadly, the significant dangers posed by other motorists aren’t the only risks Uber and Lyft drivers take on in their work, especially on New Year’s Eve. Acts of violence are of particular concern on this holiday, given the unusually late hours you may be working, the abundance of alcohol use, and other factors.

If you don’t normally drive for a rideshare company during the late hours of the night when people are out celebrating New Year’s Eve, here’s a quick refresher on safety tips Uber and Lyft drivers should follow at night (or anytime, really).

  • Take advantage of all safety features the rideshare company offers to you, like the Safety Toolkit in Uber’s app, which includes the option to share your trip status with a trusted loved one and, if needed, contact emergency services with a single tap of a button.
  • If you truly don’t feel that accepting a fare is safe, Lyft encourages rideshare drivers not to do so, noting that “there are times when it’s perfectly reasonable to cancel a ride.” If you find that you need to cancel a ride you have committed to taking, Lyft asks drivers to contact the company’s support team.
  • Always verify your rider before allowing them to enter the vehicle. Unfortunately, drivers picking up passengers are at risk of becoming victims of armed carjackers and robbers or other types of assailants. Make sure the person hopping in your car is your intended fare and not a criminal looking for an opportunity to victimize you.

No one likes ferrying around a belligerent passenger, but in some instances, passengers (especially drunk ones) can cross the line from obnoxious to downright dangerous. Remember that protecting your own health and safety is the most important thing—much more important than any fare, bonus earnings, or rating on an app.

If you have reason to fear for your safety upon stopping to pick up your passengers or during the ride, don’t be afraid to take whatever actions are necessary to protect yourself. These actions might include insisting that the passenger sit in (and remain in) the backseat, firmly reminding the passenger to keep their hands to themselves, or even cutting the ride short. If you must cut short a ride, make sure that you drop the passenger off at a well-lit public place with plenty of witnesses, not in a dark alley or remote parking area where the aggressive passenger could have more opportunity to get physical.

Assault is assault, and if a passenger physically or sexually assaulted you in any way while you were acting as a rideshare driver, it’s essential that you report the crime—not just to Uber or Lyft, but also to the authorities, who can hold the perpetrator criminally accountable.

When Rideshare Drivers Should Bring in an Attorney for an Injury Matter

If you sustain serious injuries in circumstances for which you think someone else’s negligence may be to blame, it’s a good idea to at least speak with an experienced rideshare attorney—for free—about your options. A serious injury doesn’t have to be life-threatening or catastrophic. Any injury that gets in the way of your life in significant, long-term ways may be the grounds for a lawsuit.

If you were hurt on the job while in a traditional employment arrangement, rather than engaging in app-based gig work, you would be eligible for benefits like medical bill coverage and disability payments through worker’s compensation insurance. Since you’re considered an independent contractor instead of an employee, you won’t qualify for these benefits.

Sorting out liability for a personal injury claim you sustained while working may be tricky. An attorney who is familiar with the intricacies of personal injury law can examine your case from all angles to identify all possible defendants.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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