Drowsy driving while behind the wheel of a ride-sharing car

Posted at 6:24 PM, Jun 15, 2017

Two weeks from today Upstate New York will will welcome ride-sharing to the community. Many Western New Yorkers will start using their personal cars for companies like Uber and Lyft to make extra money. But some people are concerned about the lack of regulations for how long a driver can work.

Ride-sharing companies legally don't require a cap on the number of hours an employee can drive. Some people like owner of Liberty Cab, Bill Yuhnke thinks this could be a recipe for drowsy driving.

"It is a serious problem and thanks to you and Channel 7 I would say that's a subject really needs to be addressed," Yuhnke said.

Although there are no laws regulating the number of hours cab drivers can work either, Yuhnke made it a company policy to only let drivers work 10 to 12 hours daily at the max. After talking with 7 Eyewitness News he's now considering lowering it to eight.

Studies show driving drowsy increases the chances of getting into a crash. Doctors recommend you get at least seven to eight hours of sleep. Sandra Block a Sleep Specialist at Buffalo Medical Group thinks not regulating the number of hours drivers can operate could be bad.

"I think it's absolutely imperative that they have some limit in the amount of consecutive driving you can do and the amount of sleep that you need they have it in you know trucking companies. They should have it for this kind of driving situation as well," Block said.

Uber released this statement to 7 Eyewitness News:

"Uber is a flexible work opportunity, so people can drive whenever they want. (Keep in mind, more than half of drivers in the US use the Uber app less than 10 hours a week.) That could be before work, or after, or however they choose to fit driving in with their schedule. We know that sleep is the only proven way to prevent drowsy or fatigued driving, which is why awareness is important. This is in part why we have been piloting in-app notifications in some cities since last year that remind drivers about the importance of taking breaks and getting enough rest.

Our Community Guidelines explicitly remind drivers that “... if you’re driving and feel tired, take a break.” If we receive reports that people are driving while tired, we can investigate and take appropriate actions. In addition, we have been working on using GPS and accelerometers in smartphones to verify rider feedback regarding things like hard braking, and other concerns, and sharing that feedback with the goal of encouraging safe behaviors."