Who’s Liable With UberX?

Mar 4, 2015
Categories: Driving
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Did the number of collisions between cars and cyclists increase or decrease over the past few years in Waterloo region?

Answer:

The number of collisions has actually increased in a big way. According to Waterloo Region staff, many of the region’s traffic problems could be solved by redesigning existing roads to force drivers to consciously slow down.

Did you know the answer?

Now for this post’s question!

Approximately how many licensed taxis are on the road in Toronto?

Check back for the answer in our next post!

A new service is trying to come to Waterloo Region, and you may have heard about them before. It’s a transit app called UberX, and it provides a database for users to order a ride from a person rather than going through a cab company.

While Uber operates in a number of Canadian cities, there have often been concerns over the service’s safety and due diligence when it comes to drivers and their vehicles. Uber is currently looking for drivers in Waterloo Region, but regional staff have a few concerns of their own.

For one, Waterloo Region has a standard fare system when it comes to cabs and transit, ensuring that consumers are equally and fairly charged. We have bylaws in the Region as well that cover taxis, and the taxi industry is licensed to protect those using and operating the transit service.

One of the big questions being raised is whether Uber operates under this bylaw or if the app is even subject to the bylaw. And who are these drivers? Who is at fault in the case of an accident? Does Uber provide an appropriate amount of vehicle inspection or investigation into the people who drive others in their cars?

At first glance it may seem only as harmless as accepting a ride from a friend, or taking a regular cab ride, but through UberX you are accepting a ride from a complete stranger. And Uber isn’t licensed and regulated the way taxi companies are, though they say they subject all applicants to criminal record checks and they provide comprehensive insurance. Anyone over 21 who passes the background check and has an insured car in working condition (and less than ten years old) can become an UberX driver.

However, Uber has also said in the past that they are a technology company and not a transportation provider. Uber’s position is that the company is actually not responsible for anything that happens both before a ride is booked and after the passenger has paid the fare.

So, who’s liable when it comes down to an accident with a ride-sharing vehicle? The Insurance Bureau of Canada has warned that anyone choosing to be an UberX driver must have commercial insurance. With only personal car insurance, if there’s a collision that injures the driver or the passenger, the driver won’t be covered.

And what about those moments where a driver is waiting for a ride request? A recent incident where a driver logged into the UberX app but was not carrying a fare, and struck and killed a 6-year-old (and injured her mother and brother), is still up in the air as to who is at fault. The driver only had a $30,000 personal insurance policy. UberX in Canada claims that every ride is backed by $5 million of contingent auto liability insurance, but in this instance, the driver was between fares—though still technically working for Uber, since he was logged into the app.

It’s a tricky situation, and anyone looking to apply as a driver for UberX should be well aware of these pitfalls and gray areas. Until the provincial laws and bylaws around ride-sharing services are clear, potential drivers should be very, very wary. Passengers too, because you never know who you might be accepting a ride from and what sort of coverage you’d receive in the event that something unthinkable happens.

There’s no doubt that this type of service is seen as useful to the consumer and a good way to promote competition in a stagnant and often frustrating industry—but it seems like a few kinks need to be worked out first.

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