Ride-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, are coming to have a bigger and bigger presence out on the roads here in America. How ride-sharing service drivers act matters considerably, as their actions not only can impact their passengers, but also other individuals using the roads (including bicyclists, motorcyclists and other drivers or passengers). So, one would hope ride-sharing drivers would keep their conduct behind the wheel safe and responsible.
Recently, Uber started a testing phase for a technology which can track the driving conduct of Uber drivers. The technology is an update to Uber’s driver app which uses the sensors on a driver’s cellphone to track things such as acceleration and braking. The data tracked can then be used to create a summary of an Uber driver’s driving conduct. It can also give real-time alerts for certain types of unsafe conduct. The technology fits into the broad category of driving tracking technologies known as telematics.
As part of the test phase, Uber is having drivers in several cities use the app update. According to the company, during the test phase, the driving conduct summaries the technology generates for drivers will be used to give helpful feedback to drivers, not to issue consequences to drivers who do poorly in the summaries. This current test phase follows a more limited testing of driver conduct tracking technologies the company started late last year.
There are some concerns that have been raised related to telematic use by ride-sharing companies regarding their drivers. This includes possible driver privacy concerns and concerns about how accurate the tracking technology is at gauging driver safety. Lyft has cited safety tracking accuracy/reliability concerns as a reason why it has yet to do any widespread experimentation regarding technologies like the one Uber is testing.
It will be interesting to watch what happens during this test phase and what Uber will do regarding the technology at the end of the testing. One wonders, if telematics use does one day become widespread among ride-sharing services, what impacts it will have on the overall safety of the driving conduct of ride-sharing service drivers. One also wonders if telematics data might one day become a pretty common type of evidence in personal injury cases regarding accidents involving ride-sharing service drivers.