Technology is amazing. You can manage your entire life at your fingertips with your smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, etc. But along with service providing apps come gray legal areas. Nowhere is this more apparent than with ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft.
When you call an Uber or Lyft for a ride, is it the same as a Taxi?
Legally, no. These tech companies are not under regulation of specific city or state governments, and in many cases, do not pay the same taxes and licensing fees as taxi companies. Many cities and states regard taxis as equal to buses, subways, and other forms of public transportation that are exempt from requiring seat belt use.
But when you accept a ride via a ridesharing app, you’ll find yourself in someone’s personal vehicle. The public transportation rules do not apply. As an adult passenger, you could be fined for not buckling up in private transportation. In some states, even the driver is at risk of receiving a ticket or fine for a passenger not wearing a seatbelt, even if the passenger is an adult.
Uber and Lyft Seat Belt Policies
Uber’s Seat Belt Policy: Uber urges all passengers to buckle up, whether in the front or back seat of a ride.
Lyft’s Seat Belt Policy: Lyft doesn’t specifically suggest or recommend passengers wear seat belts. However, it does require all Lyft vehicles to be equipped with at least 5 functional seat belts, including that of the driver.
Uber and Lyft might seem to have vague seat belt policies, but that’s because the legality of any given situation actually depends on state law.
Follow the State Law
Ultimately, what it comes down to is following the seatbelt laws of whichever state you are in. Whether as a driver or as a passenger in someone else’s car, you have a responsibility to follow a state’s laws.
Arizona law states that all front seat passengers must wear a seatbelt, and any passenger 16 years old or younger must wear a seat belt, regardless of where they are sitting. By omission, it appears that adults in the backseat aren’t legally obligated to wear a seatbelt, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.
Uber/Lyft Drivers: It’s your car, you absolutely reserve the right to require your passengers to wear a seatbelt and the right to refuse service should they not comply.
Passengers: It’s your life! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “seat belt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes”. So, why not buckle up? It can only help.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, whether in your private vehicle or someone else’s, contact an experienced car accident lawyer Phoenix AZ trusts today.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Kamper Estrada LLP for their insight into uber and lyft related accident cases.