Uber and other ridesharing companies that have emerged over the past few years have changed the way people travel. For the most part, this kind of commuting experience is usually uneventful, yet pleasant. However, all it takes is one drunk Uber driver to change all of that.
We would like to think that all Uber drivers are in the ideal state of mind when they go behind the wheel to drive their different passengers to their desired locations. The unfortunate reality is that this is not always the case. Some bad apples will foolishly risk their safety by thinking they can continue driving without any issue, even if they have already been drinking alcohol.
In this article, you will learn more about drunk driving, the harm it can cause, and what you can do if you ever find yourself in a car with an intoxicated Uber driver.
Defining Drunk Driving
Before looking at the actions you can take if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of being driven around by a drunk Uber driver, let’s first define what drunk driving is.
According to the Department of Transportation, individuals are considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol when their blood alcohol content (BAC) is either equal to, or exceeds, the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
You may hear people caught drunk driving being charged with DUI (driving under the influence), DWI (driving while intoxicated), as well as OUI (operating under the influence) and OWI (operating while intoxicated). VeryWell Mind notes that these terms can have several meanings depending on the state. They may also just be referring to the same crime.
Regardless of how it is referred to, drunk driving must be avoided at all costs.
To understand why drunk driving can be so dangerous, it helps to learn what it can do to the human body. When your blood alcohol level reaches the legal limit, it becomes harder to control your muscles. Even your reasoning and judgment will be adversely affected by the alcohol in your system.
When you go beyond that limit, you may start to lose your balance and be unable to react quickly to the things happening around you.
Considering how alcohol affects your body and brain, the following facts should come as no surprise.
What Are the Consequences of Drunk Driving?
The statistics concerning drunk driving are alarming.
Back in 2012, 31% of all traffic-related fatalities in the United States were due to drivers who got behind the wheel of the car while intoxicated. The statistics also indicate that drunk driving has proven deadly to younger individuals who were in vehicles together with irresponsible drivers.
While it’s obviously not the main concern with drunk driving, the financial cost of drunk driving is not something to be ignored either. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that in 2010, drunk driving caused $44 billion total in deaths and other damages.
Why Some People May Fall Victim to the Actions of a Drunk Uber Driver
When you book a ride through Uber, as the passenger you expect to be paired up with a capable and professional driver. It’s fair to expect that considering Uber does have strict requirements for their drivers.
The ridesharing company looks for drivers who have at least one year of licensed driving experience if they are 23 and older, as well as three years of licensed driving experience if they are not yet 23. Uber drivers are also supposed to have a valid driver’s license.
More importantly, an Uber driver should be able to pass a screening process that involves a look at their driving and criminal history. If a driver applying for a job was accused of a DUI previously, or has any other crime on his/her record, the company will not accept that application.
Unfortunately, Uber and even law enforcement agencies will be unable to catch all instances of driving under the influence of alcohol. The drivers who have taken the wheel of a car while intoxicated and got away with doing so cannot be caught, or at least not right away.
In an ideal world, you will never have to be in a situation where you are being driven by someone who has clearly had too much to drink. However, that is not always something you can detect or avoid right away. What you can do is arm yourself with the knowledge featured in this article, so that you can stop the trip immediately or act accordingly in the aftermath of an accident.
What You Can Do When You Suspect You Are Being Driven by an Intoxicated Uber Driver
Report the Driver Immediately
In cases where it is obvious right from the start that your Uber driver is drunk, know that you have no obligation to get into the car. If you’re already in the car when you realize that your driver is not fit to continue driving, then you must put a stop to the trip right away, according to Uber.
Once you have exited the car, go ahead and call 911. You can also ask the person driving to get off the road so that any accidents can be avoided. At this point, keeping yourself and everyone on the road safe from the drunk driver is the priority.
The hope here is that the driver will listen to sound judgment and refrain from operating any further.
After ensuring your safety, Uber encourages their passengers to report what happened through their app. Passengers can head on over to the Help menu and then select the issue that best fits their situation from there. You can also choose to report the incident through Uber’s website or by sending an email to their customer complaint department.
Take Advantage of Uber’s Safety Features
Something many riders may not know about the Uber app is that it actually has some safety features you can take advantage of. The good news is that you can make great use of these features if you believe that you are in the careless hands of a drunk driver.
The first feature is one that you actually don’t have to interact with. It’s something that monitors the car’s rate of acceleration. If the car accelerates out of nowhere, this feature will send notifications to both the driver and passenger asking if they are okay. You can take this as a sign that something may be off about your Uber driver if you were still unsure beforehand.
The feature can also call 911 if it determines that you and your driver are not in good condition. If the car is involved in a minor crash, the feature will notify a different Uber driver and that person will be tasked with taking you to your target destination, free of charge.
There is also a relatively new feature in the Uber app known as Ride Check. What this feature does is detect if your car has stopped moving for a long time. Uber will then ask the driver and rider if the stop taking place is intentional.
Riders can also hit the emergency button in the app. By doing so, important details about the car will be relayed by the app to 911. This will allow emergency responders to pinpoint your location and prevent a potential accident.
What You Can Do If You Are Involved in an Accident Because of a Drunk Uber Driver
Hopefully, you will be able to tell right away if your driver is drunk, so that a potential accident can be avoided. However, the drivers themselves may try to pull one over on you by using perfume or cologne to mask the smell of alcohol. They may also minimize the amount they talk so that you do not hear their slurred speech.
You may only figure out that your driver’s abilities are impaired when he/she is already driving recklessly. Even worse, you may only be clued in to the fact that something’s wrong when you’re already about to crash into a road barrier or another vehicle.
That’s obviously an unfortunate situation to be in, but you need to do certain things following a crash to protect yourself, both in the immediate and long-term aftermath of the incident.
Your safety takes top priority in this scenario.
Don’t shrug off the need to double check your condition,n even if you don’t feel any type of injury occurred after the crash. Call 911 right away and have them arrive at the scene.
Having emergency workers and law enforcement at the scene of the crash accomplishes a few things. Beyond just ensuring that you and everyone else involved in the crash is safe, the respondents can also take stock of what happened. They can gather the facts of the case by inspecting the area and conducting interviews with the parties involved, along with any witnesses.
You should also make sure that you do not allow the Uber driver to run away from the scene of the incident.
Before you leave the scene, get the contact information of all the people there, including the respondents. You may need to get in touch with them later on.
Get Treated for Any Injuries
Some passengers involved in car accidents may end up injured, but will still be well enough to check in to the hospital at a later time. However, they should not wait too long before seeking treatment.
You must go get checked by a doctor right away, because what they say will provide you with the information you will need to eventually file a case. The doctor can document your injuries, as well as indicate how much it will cost to have them properly treated.
These are details you can use as evidence if you do decide to file a case.
Prepare for a Legal Battle
Uber considers their drivers to be third-party contractors and ordinarily, that is not something that will impact your experience while being their passenger. That distinction can be problematic if you were the passenger of an Uber driver who got into an accident.
Uber does have the liability coverage necessary to compensate injured passengers, but since they are a company, they will not just pay up right away. They will likely want to conduct their own investigation, attempting to hold off on compensating you for as long as possible.
Even Uber’s insurance provider could resist claims made by injured passengers.
Here is where Uber’s complex partnership with their drivers can be troublesome for you. If you want to place the blame on one of them over what happened, getting that to stick is going to be a challenge.
You may even be forced to take part in a complicated legal battle.
This would be the time when you would need to hire an attorney.
How to Properly Prepare Yourself for the Upcoming Legal Proceedings
Uber is a multi-billion dollar business with an army of high-powered lawyers. Needless to say, they can easily brush away most frivolous lawsuits that people may throw their way.
They can also wiggle their way out of stronger legal challenges, because they have the resources required to create a long, drawn-out legal war if that is what they deem necessary.
Simply having the facts of the case on your side may not be enough to turn things in your favor. What you need to do is to align yourself with a credible, reliable, and highly-skilled personal injury attorney who can represent you in a potential legal battle with the driver, or Uber itself.
Finding a personal injury attorney can be a daunting challenge if you have never done so before, but you can place your trust in the people at Batta Fulkerson. They will provide you with the expert legal representation you need. You can even set up a risk-free consultation with them before hiring them.
Get in touch with Batta Fulkerson to give yourself the best chance of succeeding in your legal battle.