Those who work as ridesharing drivers in Virginia should already be aware of the risks they face. Low fares and salary incentives can compel many drivers to work past their safety limits, depriving themselves of sleep in the process. Even worse, they tend to undervalue sleep. Since most ridesharing drivers are independent contractors, they aren’t screened for conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea.
This is the situation that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine described in a position statement back in April 2018. Not much has changed then. Drowsy driving continues to be a serious hazard. According to AAA estimates, there is an average of 328,000 drowsy driving crashes every year in the U.S. with 109,000 of those ending in injuries and 6,400 of those resulting in fatalities.
Ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft now require their drivers to go offline for six consecutive hours after working for 12 and 14 hours, respectively. As AASM points out, though, this does not address the fact that many ridesharing drivers work in the early mornings and late at night. Many drivers work multiple jobs, too.
The AASM is calling for ridesharing companies, law enforcement, government officials and medical experts to collaborate on reducing fatigue-related crashes. Drivers, for their part, should learn about the warning signs of drowsiness.
Drowsy drivers will not be free from blame if they cause a motor vehicle accident. That’s why a crash victim may want to reach out to an attorney. If the lawyer sees that the grounds for a personal injury claim are good, he or she can proceed to build it up and negotiate for a settlement.