Drivers in California should be aware of the danger of drowsiness on the road. While it affects anyone who decides to go out on the road after an extended period of wakefulness, it’s becoming especially common among ridesharing drivers. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that the ridesharing industry is creating a public safety risk.

In a position statement published back in April 2018, the AASM calls for ridesharing companies, law enforcement, government officials and medical experts to collaborate on addressing it. This thought has been echoed in the 2017-2018 Most Wanted List compiled by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to AAA estimates, there are 328,000 drowsy driving crashes annually in the U.S. with 109,000 resulting in injuries and 6,400 in death.

Ridesharing drivers often feel urged on to work past their safety limits by the low fares and their company’s salary incentives. Correspondingly, they may underrate the value of sleep. Many, being independent contractors, will drive with unscreened conditions like obstructive sleep apnea that reduce their alertness even more.

While Uber and Lyft both require their drivers to take a six-hour break after a certain number of hours of work, the companies are not addressing certain critical issues. For example, even when drivers take that break, they may head out in the early morning or late at night when sleepiness peaks. Others hold multiple jobs.

A drowsy driver could cause a serious car accident, leaving victims with injuries, vehicle damage, medical bills, lost wages and other losses. Victims might be compensated for these with a successful personal injury claim against that driver’s auto insurance company, but they may want to retain a lawyer before moving forward. They may leave all negotiations to their lawyer and proceed to litigation if the other side refuses to settle or gives only a low-ball settlement offer.

By Maho | Prentice, LLP Attorneys at Law on January 15, 2019