After the California Air Resources Board proposed a climate affecting regulation concerning ridesharing companies and vehicles, it was a clear sign that California, at least, was prepared to enter into a new era of environmental awareness.
The regulation has set a goal for Uber (and Lyft)- 90 percent of miles driven by Uber drivers would have to be in electric vehicles.
Rideshare Vehicles Responsible for Air Pollution
The regulation did not cause uproar immediately, but ridesharing companies are not completely satisfied with what they are now basically ordered to do. The burning question that seems to interest everyone, from ridesharing companies to their drivers, is- who will pay for the electric vehicles?
According to an analysis realized in December, there are about 600,000 ridesharing vehicles in California. The study shows an alarming fact- those ridesharing vehicles emit nearly 50 percent more greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile traveled than any other average vehicle in the state.
The guilt lies in the ”deadheading” part of the ride when drivers cruise around the town waiting for a ride or are on their way to pick up their passengers. And no matter how popular Uber is, deadheading is still 40 percent of all miles logged by Uber vehicles.
If you compare the pollution of an Uber vehicle to what a person would typically make if they traveled by their own car, an Uber vehicle is 70 percent more polluting than an average trip.
Uber’s Business Model Issues
Uber, like all other rideshare companies, has been under a magnifying glass recently. The increased popularity and the consequential air pollution have nothing to do with the scrutiny of this company. It is their business model that’s been causing them hefty losses.
Viewing their drivers as independent contractors backfired in so many ways. Frequent Uber car accidents showed how self-serving Uber terms have been considering that the company tended to deny liability in any kind of Uber car accident.
Furthermore, Uber never had to hire their drivers as their employees and pay for health care or unemployment insurance. There were no benefits to being an Uber driver. This also caused many problems to people who’ve been hurt in Uber car accidents.
To this day, because of Uber’s business model of not considering their drivers as employees, rideshare car accident claims are one of the most complex. It is a known fact that only an experienced California Uber accident lawyer can make sense of this type of case.
Today, it is possible to hold the Uber company liable if you’ve been injured in an Uber accident. In California, every auto owner must have a basic auto insurance policy. That’s the only active policy whenever an Uber driver is not logged into an Uber app. Once he logs into an Uber app, the Uber company’s insurance policy is active as well.
California is one of the states that require ridesharing companies to provide additional insurance coverage to their drivers. Of course, depending on the type of the accident, who is responsible for the accident, and in which period of the ride accident happened, a different amount of insurance coverage is applicable.
This helped reduce a great deal of stress on the California Uber drivers’ back. But it seems that new expenses are on the horizon for this group of independent workers. Unlike taxi drivers, Uber drivers use their own personal vehicles to do their job.
But now, with the new regulations in place, by all logic, they have to acquire new vehicles- expensive electric cars. Adam Gromis, a global lead on sustainability policy at Uber, stated that ‘‘we support this regulation and we support the ambitions that it sets out.
We do think that there’s work to be done in terms of pairing and marrying the regulation side with supportive policies that can ensure a fair transition for drivers.” This means that Uber basically approves of the regulations, and they hope the state will provide funding for their drivers so they can purchase electric vehicles easier. In a way, Uber is stating that they will not buy the new vehicles, but their drivers will have to.
In their analysis, the Air Resources Board also discovered that around 56 percent of the rideshare drivers come from low-income or disadvantaged communities and would therefore not be able to switch to an electric vehicle that easily. Besides buying a new electric vehicle and a suitable electric charge, the drivers would also be weighted down with higher electric bills because of their new vehicles.
Nicole Moore, a rideshare driver in Los Angeles Area, says that ”The companies should pay all expenses for all the vehicles, all the time. But that’s not happening. “The cost of the fleet is on the drivers, the cost of the fuel is on the drivers, everything is on the drivers.
This is going to basically be a green badge of honor for Lyft and Uber when it’s the drivers that are paying for this conversion. And it’s not right!” Nicole Moore is also on the organizing committee for Rideshare Drivers United and is driving a plug-in hybrid.