In the fall of 2018, Uber introduced a new tool for riders and drivers to communicate through the company’s app using a voice over internet protocol, or VoIP. Prior to the rollout of this new feature, Uber drivers and their passengers communicated via text messaging, within the Uber app, and public switched telephone networks. The new VoIP feature is akin to Skype or FaceTime audio, in that it uses an internet connection to make calls instead of using cell phone service. Using data calling is less expensive than cellular calls, particularly for people traveling abroad. And, in locations, where cellular reception is spotty, such as concerts, sporting events, or other large events, the VoIP feature may be particularly beneficial. But can Uber’s new VoIP feature distract your Uber driver?
Distracted driving puts others at risk
While we often think of distracted driving as texting on a cell phone or talking on the phone, any activity that takes your eyes off the road and your attention off driving is a driving distraction. Distracted driving in the United States resulted in 3,450 deaths and 391,000 injuries in 2016. Text messaging is the most dangerous distracted driving behavior because it requires visual, cognitive, and manual attention from the driver.
Is Uber’s VoIP a driving distraction?
In the case of Uber’s VoIP, while this feature does not involve texting, it still incorporates forms of distraction. The Uber driver must remove his or her hands from the steering wheel in order to use the app. The Uber driver must take their eyes of the road to use the VoIP feature to make a phone call. And cognitively, they must divert their attention from the business of driving to concentrate on the conversation they are having with a rider. All these actions put the Uber driver, the passenger, and others at risk.
New Jersey’s laws regarding distracted driving Uber accidents
New Jersey enacted the Transportation Network Company Safety and Regulatory Act in 2017, requiring rideshare drivers and their employers to meet certain insurance coverage standards in addition to participating in criminal and driving background checks. New Jersey also enacted laws to protect those injured by distracted rideshare drivers. Rideshare companies are required to carry $1.5 million in uninsured/underinsured and liability insurance coverage. Uber passengers who are injured in an accident due to distracted driving — such as using Uber’s VoIP – or another negligent act will receive medical coverage through the rideshare company, the driver, or both.
If you have suffered injury in an Uber accident in New Jersey, contact our firm
If you or a loved one has suffered injury in an Uber accident in New Jersey, the process of recovering compensation for your medical bills and other losses can be quite difficult. Let us help. At Lomurro Law, our accident attorneys hold at fault parties responsible for their actions – including Uber accidents due to distracted driving or other reckless driving behavior. Our accomplished team is comprised of eight New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Civil Trial Attorneys, two Masters of Law in Trial Advocacy associates, and two former presidents of the Young Lawyer Division of the New Jersey State Bar. Contact a member of our team to arrange for a confidential consultation to discuss your case at 732-482-9285 or use our secure online form. We serve all of Monmouth County, including Asbury Park, Long Branch, Freehold Township and Wall Township.