The American Academy of Sleep Medicine brought attention to a widespread issue in the ride-sharing industry back in April 2018, and its position statement on the matter should be of interest to New Jersey road users. Many ride-sharing drivers, compelled by salary incentives and low fares, are overworking themselves to the point that they become drowsy behind the wheel.
Drowsy driving is behind an average of 328,000 car crashes annually in the U.S. with 109,00 of them involving injuries and 6,400 ending in at least one fatality. This is according to estimates from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Sleepiness reaches its peak during the early mornings and late nights, precisely the times when many ride-sharing drivers work.
Current regulations are incapable of addressing this and other issues. For example, Uber and Lyft require a six-hour break for its drivers after a respective total of 12 and 14 work hours. The rule does not take into account how many drivers hold multiple jobs. Since ride-sharing drivers are independent contractors and not employees, ride-sharing companies generally do not screen them for medical conditions like obstructive sleep apnea.
At the root is lack of education on the dangers of drowsy driving combined with the undervaluing of sleep. The AASM therefore calls on ride-sharing companies to collaborate with law enforcement, medical experts and government officials to address the issue.
Drowsy driving is a form of negligence since one should know how sleep deprivation can affect behavior. Those who are injured in a car accident caused by such a motorist might want to have the help of a lawyer when attempting to obtain compensation for their medical bills and other losses.