In an effort to combat driver fatigue, Uber will be forcing its drivers to take a break. The new feature in the ridesharing platform will kick in automatically once drivers have been active for 12 hours, and will disable drivers’ abilities to accept trips during the following six-hour period. Already, the company has this policy in place in a few cities across the U.S. to comply with local regulations, but this new feature will now affect all drivers throughout the country.
While this change isn’t likely to affect the vast majority of drivers (Uber notes that around 60 percent of drivers use Uber less than 10 hours per week), the company certainly has “power-drivers” that bring up the numbers for everyone. As such, this new feature is meant to protect a small but important minority of workers who might be overworking themselves. Indeed, driver fatigue has long been an issue on American roads, and many professional drivers (including truck drivers) have strict rules as to when they must pump the brakes after a long trip. And even Lyft has a similar protocol in place — drivers must take a six-hour break after 14 hours in driver mode.
Uber says that drivers are always aware of how much driving they’ve done, and that the company uses careful metrics to determine what qualifies as active driving and what qualifies as rest. For example, the timer won’t run when drivers are stopped at an airport waiting for passengers, but will run when a car is stopped at a red light.
As Uber Head of Safety Product Sachin Kansal explained, “There’s definitely a lot of third-party expertise that has gone into our thinking. But it’s also that we know how our drivers drive, we know road conditions, so we have baked all that into it as well.”
Drivers will be notified as they draw close to the 12-hour limit so that they won’t be surprised when they’re told that they must stop for six hours. Once the required break has run its course, Uber says that the app will unlock itself automatically.
You can expect to see this new feature rolled out across the U.S. in the next few weeks.