Can Uber’s New VoIP Feature Distract Your Uber Driver?
In the fall of 2018, Uber announced that it was rolling out a new way for drivers and their passengers to communicate through the app. The new feature utilizes voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP for short. Uber’s VoIP service allows drivers and passengers to use an Internet connection to communicate, instead of draining cellular data.
Before the VoIP feature was introduced, Uber drivers and their passengers were able to communicate via text messaging, public switched phone networks, and chatting within the Uber app. Since data calling is less expensive than calling over a cellular network, Uber began exploring the VoIP option. It is especially beneficial for those traveling abroad who may otherwise incur hefty roaming charges for placing calls.
The calls may be made right within the Uber app. Uber’s product manager for communications, Gagan Mac, said that in areas where cellular reception is spotty, such as football games, concerts, or other large events, the VoIP feature is especially useful. Many Uber passengers have cancelled their rides when they could not get in touch with their drivers due to poor reception.
The question remains—is the new feature distracting for Uber drivers? The answer is yes.
There are three primary types of distractions that are especially dangerous while driving: cognitive distractions, manual distractions, and visual distractions. Texting while driving is one of the primary causes of motor vehicle accidents because it involves all three types of distractions—drivers have to look away from the road to send a message, must think about composing or responding to a message, and must take their hands off of the wheel to send the message.
Though VoIP does not necessarily involve texting, it may still involve all three types of distractions. The driver must look away from the phone to use the VoIP feature and make a call. The driver must take his or her hands off of the wheel to use the app, and the driver must think about the conversation he or she is having. Therefore, it is entirely possible for an Uber driver to be dangerously distracted while using Uber’s VoIP feature.
In New Jersey, special laws have been enacted that protect those injured by distracted or otherwise negligent Uber drivers. Ride-sharing companies must carry $1.5 million in uninsured/underinsured and liability insurance coverage to ensure injured victims are fully compensated for their injuries. The coverage is available whether Uber drivers injure their own passengers or the passengers of another vehicle. Before such legislation was enacted, the driver’s personal auto insurance policy and Uber’s insurance policy would often try to pin liability on each other—sometimes leaving the injured passenger with no route of recovery.
If you have been injured by an Uber driver in New Jersey, contact our accident attorneys today for a free consultation
At Leonard Legal Group, we believe all negligent drivers should be held accountable for the injuries they cause. We pursue all available avenues of recovery for our clients. To schedule your free consultation with our firm, call 973-984-1414 or contact us online.