Uber will begin forcing six-hour rest breaks for busy U.S. drivers

Uber is getting serious about keeping drowsy drivers off the road

Uber is getting serious about keeping drowsy drivers off the road

The ride-hailing company is rolling out a new policy that requires U.S. drivers to take a six-hour break after 12 consecutive hours of driving.

Once a driver reaches 10 straight hours on the road, Uber will suggest a break and warn of an impending deadline. Uber plans to enforce this policy with an app feature that counts down available driving hours, warning drivers when they have two hours, one hour, and 30 minutes of driving time remaining. The app will then be unavailable for new fares until the "mandatory rest period" of six hours is over, per the Post.

Uber is ready for a less laissez-faire approach to drowsy driving. In its statement to the Post, Uber emphasised it was implementing the new restrictions regardless of who was technically legally responsible for controlling how long the drivers were on the road.

Moreover, there is nothing stopping drivers from "moonlighting" - working their normal job during the day, then driving for Uber at night - and there's no real way of knowing how well-rested a driver really is. They could, for example, switch between different ride-hailing services, so that when their time's up with Uber they turn on Lyft. The change was likely motivated by a string of recent setbacks for Uber in the United Kingdom and Europe, including London's transport authority declining to renew its license to operate in September 2017, citing consumer safety concerns.

There are some caveats to the USA rule: while short waits at stoplights will count against workers' driving time, any idling lasting more than five minutes (at airport terminals, for example) will not count.

"We want to keep our riders and drivers safe", said Sachin Kansal, Uber's Director of Product Management, told The Washington Post.

A couple of weeks after coming out with a policy that mandates drivers in the United Kingdom to take a minimum of 6 hours break, Uber has launched a feature that requires drivers in the U.S. to do the same.

"We want to do our part to help prevent drowsy driving", Kansal said. It's also likely that the app won't even stop those that work more than 12 hours.

But the new mandate still gives Uber a leg up over Lyft, which only makes drivers take a six hour break after 14 hours of driving.