Aviva Solves Insurance for Uber, Distracted Driving Remains a Concern

Aviva Solves Insurance for Uber, Distracted Driving Remains a Concern

Almost everyone has heard of Uber, a relatively new ride sharing service connecting drivers and riders in major cities across North America. While the service is beneficial to many, one major problem with using Uber is the risk of riding in a vehicle where the status of insurance is unknown.

Most Uber drivers use their own private vehicles and are paid money to transport riders around a city. In most cases, the driver’s personal auto insurance policy would likely refuse to cover the driver (and consequently any passengers) in the event of a collision.

It looks like this problem is now solved in Ontario. Starting in February 2016, Aviva Canada will offer ridesharing insurance to drivers who use their own vehicles to carry passengers through Uber.

While this solves one major headache for Uber, and almost certainly means that Uber and other ridesharing services are now here to stay, I am not convinced that Uber is still as safe as more traditional taxis. Currently, Uber drivers have no regulation or oversight. A taxi driver must be registered with the City and is subject to municipal regulations and rules. Uber operates outside the regulatory regime.

There is also a real concern for an increase in distracted driving as Uber becomes more popular. Uber drivers are connected to riders via a smartphone app. Once the driver connects with a rider, the driver and rider communicate with each other by text messaging or calling. There is a substantial risk that the Uber driver will be distracted by his or her smartphone while driving. There are already lawsuits in the United States on this very issue.

Distracted driving is extremely dangerous. A driver using a smartphone is three times more likely to be involved in a crash. Most provinces, including Ontario, have laws prohibiting the use of electronic devices while driving. A conviction for distracted driving will result in a minimum fine of up to $1,000 and three demerit points. But the fine and demerit points pales in comparison to the carnage that could result if a distracted driver hit a pedestrian or caused a serious crash.
With the reality that Uber and other ridesharing services are here to stay, we hope that the municipalities impose oversight on the drivers and that the police enforce the distracted driving law to keep everyone safe.

Kristian Bonn, Personal Injury Lawyer

Bonn Law Office, Trenton/Belleville, ON