I respect the truth. Some of my best friends tell the truth. No one has more respect for the truth than me. I love the truth. Sometimes twice in a night. All the truth.
If they’re a fully uncompliant driver (we’ll probably know soon enough) then no, they will not.
I'm now certain (from inquiries made) that the vehicle was non-compliant. This story is certainly going to grow.
It's worth noting that Uber driving is probably more tiring than regular taxi driving too. In a busy night I don't get to stop at all until I actually log out. The system is efficient enough to give you back to back jobs right through 5 hours. So working that long feels like driving to Taupo without getting out of the car for a rest at any point, because it actually is exactly like that. I'm usually sore and drained.
Taxis get a longer mandated time before they need to take a break. This is a recognition that they do actually spend a lot of the time not driving, and can get out and walk around. This simply does not apply to Uber, particularly since the price drop made people taken endless small discretionary trips. They have predicated your ability to make nearly as much as you did before the drop on you literally working 30% more. Considering that they were already pretty hard working drivers, now it's pretty much a job of being sweated.
So when a passenger asks if I've been busy and I say yes, it's been completely relentless, the response that this must be a great thing has certainly worn thin. No, it's not a great thing, it's a necessary thing to make doing it worthwhile at all.
There are quite a few guys doing what I would consider excessive hours. The law mandates no more than 70 in a week driving passengers and Uber does claim to enforce this one. But the other mandated parts of work time are completely ignored by them. That includes the 14 hour a shift maximum, the mandatory 30 min breaks at least every 5.5 hours, the 10 hour gap between shifts, and (very importantly) the logging of work on any other jobs. You're not allowed to do 70 hours of work driving and any other paid work.
But this is the precariat we're talking about - everyone has multiple jobs. I certainly would be pushing it to have gone to a 9am Friday lecture, and worked on assignments all day, then looked after children until about 7pm, after which I jumped in the car and drove until 4am, taking only one 30 min break at midnight. Just because I don't get paid to be student or a Dad doesn't mean it isn't mentally taxing.
And any time I log out of Uber, it gives a nag screen urging you to just do a little bit more work to round out the hours or the money earned to some arbitrary multiple of $10. Seriously: "You're logging off after 5 hours and 25 minutes, why not make it 6 hours? Our passengers need you!!" Um...because it's illegal, dangerous, and I'm tired, is why.
Is this New Zealand’s first serious Uber crash?
I think we can be pretty damned sure that it is not. Statistically, that is extremely unlikely - Uber drivers have done over a million trips in NZ.
But we have not heard about them. I suspect this is because the drivers are encouraged to commit insurance fraud and hide the fact that they were Uber driving at the time. A non-compliant driver is not actually that easy to spot.
The reaction from the insurance companies should be secondary to the Transport Act as after all the insurance companies liabilities will be covered in policies held by the driver of the Uber vehicle.
If they're a fully uncompliant driver (we'll probably know soon enough) then no, they will not. The insurance company will know that it was an Uber trip and refuse to pay out, and we'll be back to the unknown limbo of relying on Uber's supposed contingent liability policy that no one has ever actually seen.
So I think it's likely that actually it will be insurance companies following this one up since otherwise they'll be paying for it.
Of course what you say about how the NZTA and police should be doing more is true. But I'm not holding my breath.
Will be very interesting to hear the full details of this crash. Bears all the hallmarks of a driver falling asleep at the wheel.
Will also be very interesting to hear whether the 3 cars that got smashed up will be covered, and by whom. A driver without commercial insurance is swinging in the wind, and Uber's "contingent liability policy" that no one has ever actually seen may be called into question here.
But who you gonna sue? If these guys are distancing themselves from operating in NZ for real, and our systems are allowing that, that puts it all on the driver. I suggest the insurance companies themselves might want to test that one in court. They're free to contact me for detail on how to get that under way.
None of the disputes are about deactivation. They're about arbitrary change and misleading inducement into contract.
Ben are they still side steping that court action of yours.
I can't speak in too much detail, since the cases are sub judice, but so far there have been 3 adjournments. Uber sought the first one at the last minute, and the drivers sought their own ones in the second two cases.
In the first case, it was because of a total lack of disclosure on Uber's part - the driver was unwilling to argue against an unknown case, unknown evidence, and unknown parties that would attend.
In the second case, a lengthy pre-hearing was held (they were in there for several hours). Uber sent Richard Menzies and a lawyer they had flown over from Sydney, who trundled in an actual suitcase full of files. This was into the Disputes Tribunal, in which lawyers may not actually be present. Uber laid their hand of cards on the table, finally. It was revealed that they have spent a great deal of time taking the NZUDA very seriously, and at great cost. They argued that the adjournments had cost them a lot of money, but I expect the referee was not impressed since they are in a small claims court over small amounts of money, so the ridiculousness of the situation must have been manifest. For what reason is a lengthy legal preparation and flying in a lawyer from overseas necessary in a matter of a few thousand dollars? That the NZUDA has never received any contact whatsoever from Uber was also unlikely to have been lost on the referee.
It's worth noting that there are significant differences in all the cases that have so far gone forward, so each one will need to be addressed individually. Uber's one silver bullet is the claim that the complainants are going after the wrong party, that the NZ operation is not responsible, despite being a wholly owned subsidiary of the operation they would like to refer the case to, employing the only people that Uber even has in NZ. For this reason, they are seeking to not even have the cases heard at all. However, of course, it could be argued that this IS the main defense, and that therefore a hearing is the place for the evidence either way to actually be heard.
My understanding is that where the claim is over contract breach, the question is about who the contract the driver had is actually with. I think that if it is ever pinned on the NZ operation, it will be by virtue of an oral contract.
Naturally, as with every complaint to Uber, there is no way to ascertain whether their claim to have disciplined the human driver even happened at all. And if it did happen, there is no way that the person being disciplined got any kind of natural justice. Their method of distancing themselves from all responsibility, whilst retaining all power and control, is literally going to have to kill someone before it is ever pulled apart. Even then, I think it's going to be difficult when regulators are craven enough to simply use the excuse that they "don't want to stand in the way of innovation". It would seem that no law breaking is egregious enough to justify halting the mighty god Innovation. But the Innovation defence is, unfortunately, not any defence for the drivers themselves. As agents of Innovation, they find themselves to be legal cannon fodder.