Many New Yorkers have noticed that the streets of Manhattan seem to be getting more crowded. This, of course, causes problems more serious than a longer commute. Greater traffic congestion is often associated with a higher risk of motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents.
While the exact cause of the congestion is not clear, the de Blasio administration recently released the results of a study showing that Uber and other app-based ride services are not to blame. The study was conducted in response to proposals made by the mayor last year. Mr. de Blasio suggested that the city should put limits on the number of for-hire vehicles operating on NYC streets. That suggestion was met with a lot of criticism and pushback, especially from Uber officials.
Although ride-sharing services may not be adding to traffic congestion, they might be causing other problems. As we have previously written, Uber and similar services can offer such low prices because they are not regulated in the same way as traditional taxis, including the requirement to be fully insured for livery services.
Most personal auto insurance policies (which many Uber drivers have) do not cover commercial driving. Uber claims to offer some additional insurance, but is that coverage going to be there after a serious or fatal accident? In recent years, Uber has tried to deny liability for fatal pedestrian accidents caused by its drivers, claiming they were not "on duty" at the time because they didn't have a passenger in the car.
When it comes to commercial driving, accident liability and insurance coverage should be crystal clear. Until or unless app-based ride services can offer such assurances, they will continue to pose a serious threat to anyone traveling on New York City streets.