Rideshare Vehicles Operating with Open Safety Recalls


Posted on September 20, 2019

When you hop in an Uber or Lyft, most of us rarely stop to think about the vehicle you’re entering beyond its convenience for getting from A to B. However, a recent report published by Consumer Reports showed that as many as 1 in 6 of the ride-sharing vehicle have safety recall items that haven’t been fixed. The study showed that rates are actually higher among traditional ride services like a taxis, finding that in America’s taxi-mecca, New York City, almost 1 in 4 taxis had unfixed recalls.

Methodology of the Consumer Reports Study

Consumer Reports reviewed around 94,000 vehicles operating for Uber and Lyft in two major markets – New York City, NY and Seattle, WA. Consumer Reports found NYC’s registered Uber and Lyft drivers in an online database but for Seattle had to submit a public records request. By comparing the registered vehicle’s VIN against the outstanding recalls, Consumer Reports was able to put together a startling picture. As many as 1 in 6 Uber and Lyft vehicles had serious safety recalls that simply had never been addressed. Many vehicles still held the now-infamous Takata airbags, known to have exploded deadly shrapnel into vehicle occupants when deployed, and causing the deaths of some 24 people worldwide. Other key recalls included defects that could cause engine fires or cause a vehicle to become completely powerless. Imagining either of these events occurring while sitting in the back of your Uber or Lyft that’s traveling at high speeds down a busy highway is frightening, to say the least.

How Do I Check to See if My Uber/Lyft Vehicle Needs a Recall?

The ease with which one can select a nearby driver, summon them, and in minutes be off to their chosen destination at a cheap fare is the inherent beauty of ride-sharing services and what’s allowed valuations of these companies during recent public offerings to be in the billion-dollar range. Short of pulling out a magnifying glass and examining your next ride’s VIN and then running that through Carfax, there isn’t much riders can do when it comes to using these services. This creates a sense of ride-at-your-own-risk when it comes to using a ride-sharing service. But studies like this one performed by Consumer Reports are putting pressure on these now-public companies to own a greater share of the responsibility for ensuring passenger safety.

Who’s Responsible for Ride-Sharing Vehicles’ Recalls?

Drivers for Uber and Lyft are almost entirely classified as independent contractors, meaning they hold the responsibility for keeping their vehicle in proper working order. This classification has been challenged somewhat as independent contractors don’t receive the same benefits and protections as employees like overtime, anti-discrimination protections, or workers compensation. If you’re involved in an accident while in an Uber or Lyft, the rideshare companies do have liability insurance coverage that kicks in as soon as the driver goes on a job. However, some insurance policies use exclusions for things where negligence caused the accident. If a driver knew they had a recall on their vehicle, yet never did anything to fix it and it caused an accident, this may be construed as negligence and a way for the ride-sharing company’s insurance carrier to deny the claim.

As of now, Uber and Lyft drivers are simply independent contractors with only limited oversight for how they are required to address recalls in their vehicles. Uber’s minimum requirements for the most part only require a 15-year or newer 4-door vehicle, with the current registration and insurance, and in “good” condition. Uber does require an annual vehicle inspection by pre-approved repair facility to assert if minimum safety standards are being met but, as of now, these facilities are not actively looking for vehicle recalls or restricting those that do from continuing to drive.

Bottom line, ride at your own risk.

I Have Serious Injuries by Riding in a Rideshare Vehicle, What Recourse Do I Have?

When you’ve been hurt or injured because of someone else’s negligence, our team steps in to seek the compensation needed simply to keep going. An accident can cause physical and emotional pain that never goes away. What is that lost activity or lost joy worth to you? Every case is different but our approach is the same. Our personal injury and vehicle accident legal teams hold decades of combined experience doing nothing but these types of cases for our friends and neighbors in Florida and Georgia. We’ll take up the fight on your behalf to get you what you deserve to be made whole again, not just settle for some low-ball offer from the insurance company. So when you’ve been hurt, call our intake specialists today. They’ll start the process for getting your case in the hands of our case managers that will chart a path to recovery for you and your loved ones. Call, click, or come into an office near you today.

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