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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Stagg

Ride-Sharing and the Recall Nightmare

Toy cars marked with Uber and Lyft tags
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

In the scheme of things, ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft are still pretty new. While both companies have been present in the marketplace for a few years now, they are often still embroiled in controversy, whether it be sexual harassment allegations at Uber or the continued effort on the part of some cities to bar ride-sharing altogether. It's likely that ride-sharing apps will continue to face serious questions about their operations in coming years, and it waits to be seen whether they will be able to weather the storm. But for those concerned with driver safety, those questions are of deadly importance right now.

In an article for Wired, Alex Davies asks an important question - how many uber and lyft drivers are in recalled cars?

Uber and Lyft are notoriously light on regulation, which has been a crucial component of their success. Without the overhead costs of regulation, Uber and Lyft have been able to provide lower cost rides, undercutting the competition. But the lack of regulations means that, while users may save on the cost of the ride, they are also in greater danger.

As Davies points out, making sure that recalled vehicles are actually brought in for repair can be difficult, especially when the vehicle has changed hands and the original registration holder is no longer in possession of the vehicle. This has led to a situation where a lot of recalled vehicles are never actually brought up to standard.

"For recalls issued between 2012 and 2016, just 58.4 percent of vehicles were fixed, according to a 2018 NHTSA report. Given recent massive recalls of GM cars with faulty ignition switches and many more with Takata airbags, that adds up to some 70 million unrepaired cars in the US, according to the Consumer Federation of America."

In a ride-sharing company where regulation of vehicles was more heavily enforced, the appropriate checks could be done to ensure that none of their drivers were on the road in vehicles that had been recalled. But, so far, Uber and Lyft have washed their hands of such responsibility. And as Davies found, that means that, according to Consumer Reports, 1 in 6

Uber and Lyft vehicles in New York City had open recalls.

Those who use services like Uber and Lyft don't have access to this information, which means that they are incredibly vulnerable. Consumers should have the right to this information - to know ahead of time if the vehicle they are riding in has a recall because of faulty brakes or overheating seats.

"You could shrug this off with a spiel about personal responsibility, but safety advocates say that's not acceptable for cars being used by ride-hail drivers, whose passengers have no way of knowing they're climbing into a potentially unsafe vehicle."

While the possibility of riding in a recalled vehicle is scary, hopefully the increased attention on this issue will get users to think twice before opting for ride-sharing.


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