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Car AccidentDrunk driving accidentsThe Dangers of Drunk Ridesharing: How Impaired Passengers Put Drivers at Risk

December 24, 20230

Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft provide millions of people with a convenient method of transportation when drinking impairs their ability to drive. However, these intoxicated passengers pose serious risks to the rideshare drivers transporting them. Impaired riders endanger drivers through unpredictable and hazardous behavior, unnecessary stops, and potential violence. This jeopardizes rideshare drivers pressured to deliver passengers swiftly. Ultimately, the combination multiplies chances for tragic and preventable drunk driving accidents.

Widespread Issue of Intoxicated Rideshare Passengers

Despite explicit policies banning dangerously drunk passengers, studies demonstrate many riders disregard these rules. Nearly 7 out of 10 rideshare drivers surveyed reported picking up intoxicated riders in the prior half year. This pervasive issue stems partly from the business incentives of drivers to accept as many passengers as possible rather than declining rides over intoxication concerns. Additionally, alcohol lowers self-control and judgement, causing extremely drunk would-be passengers to impulsively request rides when clearly unfit for transport. Without robust guardrails preventing these rides from initiating, impaired passengers end up in drivers’ vehicles alarmingly frequently.

Distracting and Reckless Behavior

Once they share a confined space with a driver, drunk passengers often engage in disorderly conduct distracting drivers from concentrating on driving safely. Sudden demands to change mid-route directions, blaring music or other noise, and unwelcome conversations all divert the driver’s attention. Impaired passengers may also make impulsive grabs for the steering wheel or parking brake lever, attempt to sit in the front passenger seat, or otherwise interfere with drivers’ ability to operate vehicles properly.

Dangerous Stops and Pull Overs

In addition to distracting drivers, drunk passengers often require unplanned stops which disrupt trips and endanger vehicle occupants. Impaired riders may urgently demand pullovers to vomit from carsickness related to intoxication. Drunk passengers may also insist drivers stop to locate lost items, purchase food, or make other unnecessary detours. These unscheduled stops often occur alongside dark, high-traffic roads putting those involved at heightened risk of crashes from fast moving passing vehicles.

Potential Violence and Aggression

Sadly, intoxicated individuals sometimes verbalize or act out violent, aggressive tendencies heightened by lowered inhibitions from heavy drinking. Belligerent behavior like racist, sexist and abusive language directed at drivers has been widely reported. And stories exist of assaults against rideshare drivers stemming from petty arguments or nonsensical intoxicated anger erupting into violence and physical injuries. This remains an ongoing issue despite bans against disorderly conduct, with few safeguards preventing trips with passengers demonstrating threatening drunken behavior upfront.

Higher Likelihood of Accidents

With drunk passengers prone to serve as uncontrolled distractions directly interfering with vehicles in motion, the probability of accidents unsurprisingly increases. Research on the topic concludes rideshare vehicles with intoxicated passengers face nearly 8 times greater odds of crashing compared to sober riders. Other analyses pin the share of fatal rideshare crashes involving drunk passengers at a staggering 60 percent.

The confined space of rideshare vehicles with the driver’s eyes fixed ahead makes even relatively safe maneuvers like sudden braking dangerous when occupants lack seatbelts. Intoxicated passengers struggle to grasp such risks and may further urge drivers to speed or otherwise operate vehicles recklessly. Add in night driving constraints, wet roadways and wildlife crossings, and the chances for tragedy expand rapidly.

Preventative Measures

Rideshare companies could implement various measures to combat the dangers linked to drunk passengers:

  • Enhanced driver training programs educating drivers on the warning signs of intoxication levels representing safety risks, and protocols for refusing transport to dangerously impaired prospective passengers.
  • Enable hassle-free ride cancellations without penalty for drivers with reasonable concerns over a passenger’s severe intoxication posing hazards.
  • Place highly visible warnings on rider mobile apps and reminders before trip initiation on intoxication policies banning dangerously drunk passengers, including precise blood alcohol cutoffs.
  • Partnerships with bars, restaurants, sports stadiums, and other venues serving alcohol to provide discounts on rides home or to hotels as incentives for patrons to avoid attempting to rideshare while intoxicated.
  • Require prospective passengers to pass brief sobriety checks and recognize intoxication disclaimer messages before ride requests can be made.
  • Suspend rider accounts after verified reports of belligerence or violence towards drivers related to excessive intoxication.

Passengers must also take personal responsibility limiting reckless behavior jeopardizing themselves and endangering innocent drivers safety through:

  • Self-evaluation of impairment levels before attempting to rideshare
  • Choosing alternatives to rideshare like public transit, taxis, or motel stays when recognizing dangerous levels of drunkenness
  • Maintaining composure and civil language throughout rides
  • Avoiding sudden loud noises or physical contact distracting drivers
  • No attempts to grab the steering wheel or touch gear shifts, parking brakes, etc.

Following such preventative best practices can help limit the chances of alcohol induced rideshare crashes and injuries.

Legal Recourse

For rideshare drivers injured by drunk passengers, several legal options may provide financial resources promoting healing and accountability for responsible parties. Experienced personal injury lawyers can thoroughly investigate case specifics to identify multiple viable defendants through suits naming:

  • The intoxicated passengers themselves, seeking damages covering medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering
  • Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft for lax safety policies and procedures failing to protect drivers from dangers posed by extremely drunk passengers
  • Vehicle manufacturers if pre-existing defects like faulty airbags or weak roofs exacerbated crash injuries
  • Bars, restaurants, clubs, stadiums, or other businesses overserving patrons showing clear signs of dangerous intoxication levels before rideshare pickup

Consultations with accredited personal injury law firms remain completely cost-free to examine the validity of potential cases. These consultations evaluate the chances of success in court on a contingency fee basis, meaning no legal fees apply unless financial compensation is secured.

While financial settlements cannot reverse drunk driving tragedy, they can positively aid victims by easing economic burdens stemming from crashes. Potential damages won cover categories like:

  • Reimbursement of ambulance transport, hospitalization, medications, therapies, and other medical costs
  • Projected income lost from missed workdays and reduced future earnings
  • Repair or full replacement costs for damaged vehicles
  • Claims for psychological therapy and counseling addressing crash trauma
  • Pain and suffering damages for emotional distress stemming from preventable collisions

If you suffered harm due to a rideshare passenger’s intoxication, contact a reputable rideshare accident attorney today. You can visit one of our offices at:

  • Beverly Hills – 8383 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 830, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
  • Los Angeles – 212 East Pico Blvd, Suite #4, Los Angeles, CA 90015
  • Tulare – 100 E. Cross, Suite #122, Tulare, CA 93274
  • Hanford – 13400 Hanford Armona Rd, Suite #B

Or call now for a free consultation on (877) 729-2652 or (323) 782-9927.


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