A couple of weeks after coming out with a policy that mandates drivers in the UK to take a minimum of 6 hours break, Uber has launched a feature that requires drivers in the US to do the same. The new feature according to the Washington Post, is aimed to addressing the issue of drowsy driving.
The update, which was announced on Monday, will see drivers take six hours mandatory break after every 12 hours of driving time. The update will become fully operational throughout the US over a two-week period. Drivers will receive a warning after 10 hours of driving uninterrupted by a six-hour break. A second warning will then follow after the 11th hour, while a third and final notification will serve as a 30-minute warning, the Washington Post reports.
After the 12 hours, the Uber app will go offline, and drivers will not be able to the app for another 6 hours. During the enforced break period, drivers will not be able pick up fares. The app will, however, be automatically reactivated at the expiration of the mandatory break period.
Uber is driven by a desire to improve safety as well as raise awareness of drowsy driving.
“We want to keep our riders and drivers safe,” said Sachin Kansal, Uber’s Director of Product Management per the Washington Post. “The approach we have taken is irrespective of who’s responsible for managing this. We want to help the drivers manage that in the app so they have all the visibility, so they know how much they can drive and when they need to go offline.”
Driving time, according to Uber, will be measured by GPS and telematics in order to detect whether or not the vehicle is moving. Longer waits such when a driver is waiting in airport queues, and whiling away beyond five minutes will not be counted.
A passenger who by any chance finds himself in any ride that is approaching its 12-hour mandatory time limit will not be booted out. Instead, Uber will ensure that such passenger gets to his destination first. The company is already taking measures that will ensure that passengers are not paired with drivers reaching the upper limit of their work time. This will address riders who have long distance to travel—they will instead be paired with other drivers with longer upper limit of work time.
“If someone is already in a ride, we’re not gonna boot them, we’re gonna let them finish that ride,” Kansal said. “One of the other reasons why we notify the drivers — 2 hours, 1 hour and 30 minutes before the limit — is exactly so they can manage those situations as well.”
In the UK, Uber’s rest breaks policy might not be unconnected with some of the issues facing it in that country; London in particular. If allowing drivers to take time off to rest after 10 hours of being on the road will help them be in the right frame of mind, then so be it.