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Cabbies Working Overtime via Uber, Prompting Concerns

According to a recent article in the Desert Sun (here), cabbies living two lives, one controlled by local cab rules set up by SunLine Transit Agency, and one more uncontrolled on Uber. (Uber drivers are still regulated, but by the state Public Utilities Commission) No one would begrudge cab drivers the opportunity to earn some more money in a tight economy. However, is that double life creating dangerous driving conditions?

Uber, like Lyft and Sidecar, is an app-based ride share service where drivers use their own cars to pick up riders. Under local rules, cab drivers cannot work more than 15 hours a day. Uber has no such regulation, and does not even keep track of the hours worked by its drivers in the first place.

Steve Williams, a driver with American Cab, was quoted in the Desert Sun saying, "If you have the option to stay out and you're not regulated, and you can stay out 20 hours a day or more, why wouldn't you?"

There is no test to determine that a driver is too tired to drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue every year. Sleepiness and fatigue causes impaired reaction time, judgment and vision as well as information processing and short term memory.

Mark Triplett, general manager for Desert City Cab, is concerned about the safety issues that come with overtired drivers. There is a reason cab drivers are regulated. Of course, there's also an inherent conflict when a driver may be tempted to allow a rider to pay through a ride share service and bypass the cab company.

The response from the Public Utilities Commission has been that, if fatigue is a concern, the current proposal of beefing up insurance requirements should put some of those fears to rest. Of course, insurance is only useful after an accident has occurred, which does nothing to assuage the fears of dangerous drivers.

While some believe that sleepy driving is on par with drunk driving in its effects on reaction time and impaired judgment, there is no current law stating that fatigued driving is illegal, at least not in California. Stay vigilant, and remember to get a good night's sleep!

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