As popular as Uber has become in the UK, the taxi-booking company has also faced quite a lot of criticism from the public for various reasons. One such criticism is that its drivers are working unreasonably long hours, with Uber themselves revealing that a third of their drivers in the UK are logged into the app for more than 40 hours a week.
In order to rectify this situation, Uber have introduced limits for their drivers, which means any driver that has done a 10-hour shift will now need to take a 6 hour break as a minimum before they can continue working.
Tiredness is a common problem for driving professions and is particularly troublesome for taxi drivers. Both trade unions and lawmakers have criticized Uber due to the hours its drivers work. When you take into account that the company is already battling to stay operational in London after having its licence stripped then it’s easy to see why the company has taken swift action on this issue.
Although Uber driver insurance policies can cover passengers as well as drivers, the risks associated with taxi drivers working tired cannot be overstated.
Uber’s UK head of policy Andrew Byrne, had the following to say on the new limits - “While drivers only spend an average of 30 hours a week logged into our app, we want to do our part to ensure they don’t drive tired,” “That’s why we’ve been sending drivers regular reminders to take rest breaks and why we’re now bringing in these new limits,”
Uber is one of the only, if not the only private hire operator in the UK to introduce such limits.
Speaking to the BBC recently, a director of the National Private Hire and Taxi Association said: “There is no rule for our drivers.
“Over the last two decades there have been at least three attempts made by the European Commission to put UK taxi and private hire vehicles under the working time directive.
“But it’s never been allowed to happen because our taxis, unlike buses and coaches, do not have a tachograph fitted so we can’t keep track of drivers’ hours or restrict them.”
Not everyone is convinced by the new limits though.
Also speaking to the BBC, Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association for black cab drivers said : “This is a toothless cap that still allows Uber’s drivers to work over 100 hours a week, and is a PR stunt that will not improve passenger safety.
“Uber can’t claim its drivers are self-employed and aren’t subject to minimum wage, but then try to limit the hours that they can work.”
“Unlike Uber drivers, all black cab drivers undertake enhanced driving tests and as such are well aware of the dangers of working long hours. This high standard of safety is reflected in the low number of accidents involving licensed black cab drivers”.