Lyft has announced that it will begin testing self-driving vehicles known as robotaxis in Florida in late 2021. Uber has also sold its autonomous vehicle unit to Aurora and this partnership has already begun testing self-driving vehicles in low speed urban and suburban settings. Uber and Aurora are set to launch their fleet of robotaxis in 2024. What impacts will Uber and Lyft robotaxis have on Florida in the years to come? This article will attempt to address some of the anticipated issues.
What Happens to Uber and Lyft Drivers?
As with most technological advancements, it is the average worker who is left behind. The whole purpose of self driving rideshares such as Uber and Lyft are to eliminate the human driver. It is all about cutting costs. This is contrary to the advertising campaign the companies have pitched since their inceptions about how driving is a great way to make extra money. Remember all the ads about driving for Uber and Lyft as a “side hustle?”
The companies claim that the elimination of drivers in autonomous vehicles will be offset by a need for actual drivers to provide services to former car owners. Of course, this argument makes no sense. The companies further claim that there will be new jobs available for fleet management, service, and test drivers. Needless to say, if robotaxis did not save money, Uber and Lyft would not be spending all of this time and money on autonomous driving. The only true way to save money is to cut the cost of drivers and this is going to have a big effect on the Florida economy and the thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers out there.
How Will Insurance Requirements Change For Uber and Lyft Accidents?
Florida has tried to be on the forefront of the development of automated vehicles. The state has encouraged testing and provided incentives for companies that want to test this technology. Uber and Lyft have been quick to move into this space.
In 2019, Florida created a statute to mandate certain insurance limits for autonomous vehicles. In Florida Statute § 627.749, it required fully autonomous vehicles with the automated driving system engaged while logged on to an on-demand autonomous vehicle network or engaged in a prearranged ride to carry at least 1 million dollars of liability coverage for injury or death caused.
Whether these limits will change once thousands of self-driving Uber and Lyfts are on the road is a different story. Uber and Lyft have already eliminated or decreased uninsured motorist coverage for their normal fleets. This has been done in an effort to save money. I can envision the same argument in the future by Uber and Lyft. If they are forced to pay more for higher insurance limits, it greatly reduces the savings of not having to pay a driver. Something will have to give and I expect it will be to the detriment of protecting the public.
What Will Uber and Lyft Accident Attorneys Need to Prove?
Without a driver of a vehicle, there is one less witness to the Uber or Lyft accident, right? How will we be able to show fault in the future? I would hope that each self-driving vehicle will have video to fill this void. I also imagine that each robotaxi would have a computerized record of what led up to the accident. This “black box” should be discoverable in a lawsuit. How much data is provided remains to be seen. It will certainly not be cheap or efficient to have to file lawsuits on every case simply to get video and data records. I can envision problems with Uber or Lyft denying fault in the case of an accident and relying on complex computerized data. We shall see. I am hopeful that video of all accidents will make deciding fault easier in the future.
My Opinions About Uber and Lyft Self-Driving Vehicles
The introduction of self-driving Uber and Lyft robotaxis are going to be a mixed bag for the state of Florida. I am convinced that there will be a cost savings to users of the rideshare services. Without paying a driver, the rides will be cheaper. I imagine there will not be a need to tip either. The downsides are twofold. First, many Uber and Lyft drivers are going to lose their jobs. This is going to hurt a lot of people financially. Second, there is going to be less protection for people who are injured in Uber and Lyft accidents. There is simply no way that there is going to be as much insurance available to pay damages after an accident. There is slowly going to be a tightening until riders and other injured people are left with little to no remedy. I am convinced that this will have a ripple effect. Ultimately, the extent of these changes will not be known for years. But, change is definitely coming.
Contact an Uber or Lyft Accident Attorney
Until these self-driving robotaxis are on the road, we must continue to handle Uber and Lyft accident cases as we have been. That means that after an accident, to screenshot the history of the rideshare before it can be deleted. Please make sure that you get the names and numbers of the Uber or Lyft driver and all witnesses to the accident.
If you are seriously injured, go immediately to a hospital or urgent care. Avoid talking to the insurance company for Uber or Lyft about your injuries until you have spoken to an attorney. And, never let the insurance adjuster take a recorded statement without a lawyer present.
We have been very successful in recovering money for our clients in Uber and Lyft cases because our firm is technologically advanced and we understand what needs to be established. If you have been injured as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft or as the result of the negligence of an Uber or Lyft driver, please contact us immediately for a free consultation. The days following the accident are the most important to any case, so please do not delay.