Ridesharing has taken some knocks lately due to the fact that a few of the drivers involved have allegedly used the gig for criminal purposes. Now another aspect of this valuable service has come under scrutiny: the vehicles themselves. A new study suggests that some rideshare vehicles may not be quite up to snuff in the safety department.
- A Consumer Reports (CR) study indicates that one in six rideshare vehicles has an open safety recall.
- Some of these open recalls are related to problems that could cause severe crashes and serious injuries.
- The study covers vehicles from the nation’s two largest ridesharing companies, as well as smaller providers.
CR reviewed roughly 94,000 vehicle records in New York City and the Seattle area. Of the vehicles that were investigated, 16.2 percent had one or more open recalls. The results include vehicle records from the two major rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft, as well as those from smaller companies such as Juno and Via. In a small number of cases, the vehicles being looked at had a significant number of open recalls. The study indicates that 25 vehicles in the Seattle area and New York City had at least five or more unfixed recalls.
Safety should be top of mind when spending time in any vehicle, including rideshare cars. (Photo : Uber)
The study also shows that many of the vehicles didn’t meet the age requirements advertised by the ridesharing companies. In Seattle, for example, both Uber and Lyft claim that the vehicles in their fleets are no more than 10 years old. But the review found more than 40 rideshare cars in the Seattle area with a listed model year of 2007 or older.
Roughly 1.4 percent of the vehicles reviewed have unfixed recalls related to Takata airbags. Currently, approximately 42 million vehicles have been included in Takata’s recall, which addresses defective airbags that are at risk of exploding when deployed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that defective Takata airbags have thus far resulted in 16 fatalities and at least 250 injuries in the U.S.
All this comes with a couple of caveats. First of all, the rideshare vehicles in the study had about the same percentage of open recalls as the rest of the privately owned vehicles on the road. This means rideshare drivers aren’t any more negligent than the overall pool of car owners. Secondly, the study found that as far as for-hire vehicles in New York City are concerned, the open recall rate was even higher than the rate observed for rideshare vehicles. CR looked at the records of more 32,000 for-hire vehicles in the city. This batch of vehicles included traditional taxis, limousines and liveries. The open recall rate for that group was 23.6 percent.
Addressing the problem
What steps have rideshare companies taken to make sure their drivers address open recalls? Uber says it actively reminds drivers to get open recalls fixed. The most dangerous open recalls have a “Do Not Drive” warning attached from NHTSA or the manufacturer. Uber says it identifies and blocks vehicles that have these types of recalls outstanding. After CR ran its story, Lyft implemented an identical policy.
If you’re interested steering clear of rideshare vehicles with unfixed recalls, there’s one step you can take. The rideshare app shares the car’s license plate number once it’s connected you with a driver. Carfax offers an app that allows you to check a license plate number for open recalls. You can download this app on your phone, and use it to check the status of each rideshare vehicle you hire.
WHY THIS MATTERS
A vehicle with an open recall may represent a safety hazard. By remaining aware of how recalls are being handled in rideshare fleets, you can make an informed decision on how best to protect yourself.