Over the last 48 hours I think just about every rideshare driver in Australia has become aware of the predicament of the Uber driver who was found guilty in a Sydney court of “negligent driving occasioning death”.
There are several issues that should come into play here as it is a situation that any one of us could find ourselves in.
Firstly, the issue of fatigue. By the information presented during the case it appears that the driver was online for around 21 hours with a couple of breaks in between totalling 7 hours. The driver had only been doing rideshare driving for a few weeks and as such was most likely still feeling his way. There seems to be a strong line of thought that the operator should have locked the driver out of the app after 12 hours or 14 at the most, they did not. Also, the driver should have been made aware that he was responsible for not driving when fatigued, it appears he was not. In most jurisdictions it is still possible for a driver to drive 12 hours, have a 6 hour break and then drive another 12 hours because that is what the app allows. That can add up to a total of 18 hours driving in a 24 hour period. To drive for 14 hours a heavy vehicle driver needs to undergo “ Fatigue Management Training” and be accredited to do those hours. Here we have a situation where a driver has been let loose without any training at all.
Secondly, we need to look at the behaviour of the passenger. I have seen some who say lock the doors and others who say that is false imprisonment. Typically, a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. The rider, who apparently was intoxicated must take some blame as well as he should not have tried to alight from the vehicle. Yes, I feel for his family as they have lost a son, brother etc. who they will never be able to interact with again. Sad. What of the other passengers who were travelling with him should they not have tried to stop his behaviour and his attempt to alight the vehicle.
Thirdly we need to consider the attitude of the regulatory bodies involved in the legalisation of rideshare. There are many issues that come into play here and I suppose the most important being the total lack of safe pick-up and drop off point in each of the major cities. No, it is all too easy to book the “offending” driver because he has stopped illegally to drop a passenger or pick up a passenger. The operators also have a duty of care in relation to this matter as they allow a rider to expect to be picked up wherever they think is OK. No consideration is given to the legality of the pick-up or drop-off point.
Members of the RSDAA have been fielding enquiries from many areas of the media both radio and television and numerous Government Departments over the last couple of days and as such we are putting forward a way that these problems can be overcome without experiencing similar problems in the future.
RSDAA has put forward many positive suggestions to various Government Departments in different jurisdictions and so far, they have chosen not to listen but now suddenly, the reality has hit them, and they are looking to ways that can alleviate these problems moving forward.
Recently another driver was threatened in Toowoomba by a driver of another personalised transport vehicle, a death threat no less. This threat has been placed into the hands of the Police to investigate. The driver is a female, and this brings another point to the fore and that is the signage that she had to display gave away that she was female, this is an issue that the operator involved has promoted for some time for a generic sign. A sign that the RSDAA has been pushing for since before legalisation of rideshare in Queensland, below is a section of our submission to PWUC back in the first half of 2017.
The RSDAA has no objection to signage being displayed on vehicles being used for booked hire but would recommend that rather than having a sign 146mm x 146 mm for each affiliated entity that a single generic sign be used. With the number of operators already participating in booked hire it is feasible that a driver could have upwards of 5 different signs displayed on the front and back windshield which would result in a serious safety risk to say the least.
Above is a generic sign that would cover the whole of the booked hire signage issue with little impact on safety and not giving any advertising benefit to any operator.
A sign like this would also overcome many problems with people endangering themselves in the “party precincts” of each of our cities as they look for different signs on approaching vehicles to see where their car is.
Point to Point in NSW has approved the use of a generic sign for rideshare drivers and the final touches are being put in place for this to be rolled out. Victoria has a similar generic sign for rideshare but here in Queensland we must have a separate sign displayed both front and back for each operator that we are affiliated with. At last count that could mean upwards of 8 signs, when in fact one would suffice and make for a much safer environment for all concerned. Queensland bureaucrats say the separate signs are for Compliance Officers to be able to identify ride share vehicles. Most rear facing signs can be hardly seen anyway due to tinted windows etc.
Many people are commenting on the fact that there seems to be an oversupply of drivers in each of the jurisdictions with no cap that drivers will be blocked from obtaining the applicable authorities to drive. The RSDAA has been campaigning for a cap to be placed on the number of drivers that are able to get the required authorities both here in Queensland and NSW. Recently we were invited to sit on a committee in Victoria as well to give insight to the members as to what we see as a solution to the problem’s drivers are experiencing. Below are the sections of submissions made to Qld and NSW officials regarding driver caps.