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Do ride-hail drivers have an obligation to address recalls?

Ride-hail platforms like Uber and Lyft have changed the game for app-based services, the taxi industry and the rights of contract employees. Now, these issues all come into play as safety advocates call for safer riding experiences as well as expectations on addressing recalls of the driver’s car or SUV.

It seems that we get news of new recalls every week. Some are relatively minor issues regarding a taillight, but the Takata airbag scandal included 21 deaths globally and involve 41.6 million vehicles in the U.S. It is also disheartening to note that the NHTSA reports that only 58% of recall notices are addressed by vehicle owners, which adds up to about 70 million un-repaired vehicles are on the road. This includes those owned by drivers who use the Lyft and Uber platforms.

Unfortunately, cab services and other businesses that own vehicles have strong motivation, but contractors using ride-hail apps are not under obligation to Uber, Lyft or others to fix their recalled car. Consumer Reports found that there were 94,000 Uber and Lyft drivers in New York City and Seattle, yet 16.7% of the vehicles picking up customers had open recalls. In an effort to keep liability at arm’s length, the companies do not want to impose rules on their drivers.

Safety advocates call for change

The companies do have a “Do Not Drive” notice they send out to drivers if the recall says the vehicle is too hazards to be on the road. However, advocates argue that this means the companies have the information to know which vehicles have recalls on them. Moreover, the platforms should inform potential customers if there is a recall on their potential ride before they choose to hire them.

Drivers need to protect themselves

Many drivers put in long hours either driving full-time or as a side-hustle. They also need to keep that vehicle on the road rather than in the repair shop. Therefore, there are particular challenges they face, not the least of which is that a dispute over the repair can lead to more time away from work or a potential lawsuit by an injured passenger. Those who need to stay on the road but wish to keep themselves and passengers safe may need to pursue options under state and federal Lemon Laws.

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