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Should you think twice before calling a ride-share?

Ride-share services like Uber and Lyft make it easier for residents and tourists to travel around the greater Seattle area. However, how much do we really know about the car we hail to give us a ride to that concert or restaurant? The app only gives the driver’s name and the make and model of the car, after all.

And a new report claims that there is a lot more that the drivers and the company alike are not telling us.

A large number of ride-share vehicles found defective

Consumer Reports conducted a study in both Seattle and New York City and found that nearly one in six ride-share vehicles have significant safety defects.

Nearly 25 types of vehicles have been listed in open brand or manufacturer recalls, but many drivers have not taken their cars in to fix those issues. And the companies reportedly do not take effective steps to make sure drivers follow the recall notice.

The article reported finding several alarming issues in many vehicles, including:

  • Defective airbags that could injure passengers
  • Engine issues that could stall the vehicle
  • Engine defects that could cause fires

Companies issue recalls for a reason. It is true that they try to avoid liability but recalls also serve to improve public and consumer safety.

Dangerous vehicles pose a threat to all ride-share users

There is always risk involved when someone gets into a vehicle. But if that vehicle is defective, then that risk multiplies significantly.

The popularity of ride-sharing alone may be a contributing factor to the increase in fatal car accidents around the country. While there is no clear evidence that vehicle defects were a variable in this increase, there is no doubt that unaddressed defects put ride-share users at even more risk than they might think.

Are ride-share companies liable?

Since their business depends on their reputation and providing ride-share services, one would think that Uber and Lyft would carry more liability for accidents and vehicle safety. However, since most drivers are contractors and they own their vehicles, it is often the drivers who are liable for any injuries or accidents resulting from neglecting recall notices.

Ride-share drivers have a responsibility to:

  • Inspect their vehicles for safety
  • Drive safely
  • Maintain their vehicle

These obligations include taking a car in during a recall to maintain passenger safety. The study indicates that Uber and Lyft drivers might avoid doing so if the ride-share service is their main source of income. However, safety–for both the driver and passengers–should come first.