Is it Safe to Take an Uber or a Lyft in the Midst of the (COVID-19)?


Understanding Safety, Precaution, and Technology During the Coronavirus Pandemic

It’s no secret that the world has been turned upside down by the coronavirus. While many businesses have come to a standstill during the pandemic, ridesharing and ride-hailing services have continued to offer their services. MIT Technology Review reported that since 2011, Lyft and Uber accident reports have been behind a sharp rise in traffic deaths. Now more than ever, ridesharing and ride-hailing services have a duty to maintain passenger safety while minimizing the spread of the coronavirus.

At the very beginning of 2020, when whispers of the virus were just that—whispers—no one could have predicted the way the spread of the coronavirus would affect each and every one of us in a major way. Now, our world feels, at times, almost recognizable. With shops, restaurants, and offices closed, we’ve all become accustomed to a certain stillness in the time of quarantine—a stillness that’s not always positive.

From losing work to remaining indoors at all times to watching the normalcy of our world slip away in the midst of a chaotic, oftentimes frightening pandemic, the coronavirus has tapped into almost every corner of our lives.

With that in mind, it makes sense that ridesharing services, taxis, and ride-hailing services like Uber have been dramatically affected, too. Nevertheless, these services have a duty to maintain passenger safety while minimizing the spread of the coronavirus.

Uber, a business whose motto centers around “a company that moves people” is directly campaigning and asking customers not to move—unless of course, the people or things that need to be moved are essential. However, public relations and marketing campaigns alone are not enough to minimize Uber accident occurrences. These campaigns must be backed up by reasonable action to protect riders from the risk of an Uber accident.

But as the pandemic begins to lighten its grip on Georgia and the rest of the United States, and as restaurants, bars, and offices begin the process of re-opening, the demand for ridesharing and ride-hailing services is going to increase.

Ridesharing and ride-hailing services, such as Uber, never entirely paused or ceased operating—so, even while the virus was at its most potent and dangerous, these services were still being offered. With an increase in demand for these services, the risk of infection or being involved in an Uber accident will also increase.

So, all of this begs this question—is it safe to use ridesharing or ride-hailing services in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and increasing Uber accident occurrences?

Uber, Lyft, and similar services have had their fair share of problems in the past—but this is the first time in our society where we’ve had to navigate extreme virus outbreaks in our modern world, one that merges technology with transportation, which has given way to a reliance on these forms of services.

Is the risk of a coronavirus infection or an Uber accident too high to rely on these services again? Are these companies taking the necessary measures to protect their customers? Is the risk of stepping into a potential Uber accident or coronavirus infection worth the reward—and alternatively, is skipping out on a rideshare service (and potentially your only form of transportation) worth the risk?

Uber Accident and Ridesharing Issues In the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Many of us have dealt—or continue to deal with— the issue of being unable to leave the house, go to work, frequent our favorite haunts, travel, etc. But some of us, essential workers, have been continuing their efforts as the chaotic world continues to turn.

In many situations, those essential workers are in places that rely on public transit or ridesharing services. So, as a person who’s obligated to leave their home during the pandemic, is it truly safe to take an Uber, hail a Lyft, or even call a cab?

We’re exploring that question today.

Scientists and doctors have said that the coronavirus undoubtedly spread through close contact—especially prolonged close contact. This is the main focus of why social distancing has proved to be effective. Further, the virus has been proven to survive on surfaces for, at minimum, several hours and now it’s being reported it can survive on surfaces for up to several days.

That means it’s hugely important to make exceptional efforts to keep yourself safe and further, why it’s exceptionally important that these corporate rideshare companies—like Uber and Lyft—take these matters seriously as well.

Consumer Reports stated that while Uber and Lyft continue to operate in most areas, each company has publically made a commitment to provide a safer, better environment for their customers who might be forced to use these services at this time.

According to Consumer Reports, Uber and Lyft have discontinued rides shared between passengers who do not know each other. For example, UberPool and Lyft Line, both services that allow for strangers to share a ride in order to cut down on expenses, have been discontinued during this time to help keep distance and limit exposure.

Lyft has updated its information on how they’re handling the coronavirus right here. Check out their latest FAQs, information, and more to see how they’re planning to navigate the ever-changing coronavirus pandemic. Uber has also created a dedicated page for customers and drivers to browse to get a more thorough understanding of their dedicated efforts.

Both companies have claimed they are shipping disinfectants and cleaning products to their drivers, however, it is uncertain how many drivers actually received these products. If you’re unsure of the safety of ridesharing or ride-hailing services, taxis could be an alternative to these options. However, there’s no guarantee that any of these services are adhering to governmental and industry safety standards. It’s quite possible these companies don’t have access to the cleaning supplies and disinfectants needed because of tight supply.

While we can’t say for certain if ridesharing services are absolutely safe or absolutely not safe during this time—especially as the pandemic beings to slow—we can say that the safer your practices are, the better. Here’s some of our best advice for maintaining safe, healthy practices if you must take an Uber or a Lyft during the pandemic.

If you can, try to opt for a taxi service that comes from a fleet—it’s not certain, but it’s more likely that these companies will have disinfectants and cleaning supplies in bulk.

  • Always wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands for the appropriate amount of time often and do not touch your mouth, face, or eyes.
  • Try to ride in vehicles that have partitions between you and the driver. While not every vehicle will offer this option, this is a better choice for keeping distance between you and others.
  • Do not share rides with strangers—avoid UberPool and Lyft Line.
  • Follow the CDC’s guidelines for practicing safety during this time.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Isn’t the Only Ridesharing Problem

Unfortunately, the question of safety when using rideshare or ride-hailing services doesn’t begin and end with the current coronavirus pandemic. Uber accident rates have increased since 2011, and Uber has also faced numerous claims of sexual assault.

In a statement published by Uber in 2018—entitled Uber’s US Safety Report—it was reported that more than 3,000 sexual assaults took place during rides in the United States. Further, the report stated that 235 rapes were reported in 2018—a number that increased from 2017 (a reported number of 229).

With tens of millions of riders that use the Uber app, those numbers display an average of four reported incidents every week in 2018 in the US—and of those, drivers allegedly committed 92 percent.

That being said, the report Uber published stated that both drivers and passengers were at risk of becoming part of this statistic. About 45 percent of accused parties were riders when it came to is categorized as the five most serious types of sexual assault.

One incident is one too many.

But, with these reports comes a silver lining—fallout from Uber accident reports and Uber sexual assault reports (and subsequent lawsuits against Uber) has forced Uber’s hand to take action and implement safety features to protect riders and drivers. This has a cascading effect on the ridesharing and ride-hailing industry, benefiting the public.

Thanks to the passion of Uber passengers and drivers, victim advocacy groups, and plaintiffs’ lawyers, change is on the way. Looking to the future, Uber must commit to addressing the challenges associated with its business head-on.

Our Final Thoughts: Understanding the Risk of Rideshare Services During the Time of Coronavirus

As the coronavirus situation continues to evolve and as our need for using ridesharing and ride-hailing services in the midst of the pandemic only increases, we encourage you to remain safe, vigilant, and smart.

It’s not always easy to offer black-and-white advice—with the constantly evolving factors of the pandemic, it’s impossible to say if something is certainly safe or certainly unsafe. All we can offer you is the advice to protect yourself, follow social distancing guidelines, and do what you believe is best for you, your family, and your loved ones during these trying times.

Looking for Uber accident advice or have legal questions? Unsure how the pandemic could affect your legal case? Seeking a reliable, trustworthy Uber accident team to handle your situation? If any—or all—of these questions apply to you, we encourage you to reach out to the Uber accident team at Butler Law Firm. Not only will our competent, expert Uber accident team have answers for you, but we can also provide you with the advice, knowledge, and information you need to continue staying safe in our troubled times.

If you or someone you know is looking for more information on working with a competent Uber accident lawyer in Georgia, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Butler Law Firm.

We’re always committed to preserving your rights and, ultimately, making sure the public is safe—especially when it comes to helping those involved in an Uber accident during the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.