Driver Safety is the big issue for e-hailing services
Taxi app business is booming and being a customer-centric one, there are plenty of user safety features in successful apps like Grab, Ola and Uber.
Right from SOS for women to sharing ride details with navigation to near and dear ones, there are handy tools with the riders on the go. Uber introduced a safety toolkit for Indian users as a part of “commitment to the community”.
But what matters at the other end of the taxi management system is also the driver’s safety in terms of road accidents and mishap. Even safety from the customer’s in case they are intoxicated or spoils the car.
There are other concerns that require the immediate attention of e-hailing services offered by the likes of Grab, Ola and Uber.
There are hurdles right from registering the driver and ensuring the same person drives that car and even on assuring that they follow road safety measures. One cannot simply overlook potential carjack or theft.
Imagine taxi app services providing cameras inside the cars, LoJack, and also some bulletproof dividers. This may sound overwhelming but drivers are mostly devoid of basic safety while on a ride.
Apps like Uber and Lyft have a blanket policy that covers only their asset like devices, etc. and nothing to protect the drivers’ belongings.
If there are any claims excluded from the insurance company’s policy then driver himself/herself need to reimburse the entire or partial claim.
This holds true for taxi-hailing services as minor damages are covered only when the driver is riding with the customer. In the case of empty pickup or changing the neighborhood, the insurance policy is ineffective.
And alas, come whatever may, taxi app owners won’t buy a new car or take the life insurance policy of driver on their head.
Being customer friendly is important but it is the drivers who are getting a lot of business for these companies and there must a comprehensive policy to protect their interest as well.
Another way to offer insurance is by partnering with the fleet management companies and tie up with insurance companies.
This will restrict drivers’ liability especially in the case when there’s any minor dent or scratch due to road traffic and they are not held totally responsible by the fleet management company.
Sometimes, it gets difficult to quantify the amount the risk that drivers take while in the ride. Ridesharing is a relatively new industry that is booming all thanks to the rapid development of Uber-like taxi e-haling app and hence the dedicated laws regulating it are so few.
Perhaps, this is the reason why it gets tough to find official figures about incidents that compromise drivers’ safety.
That doesn’t stop truth to come out as there are many forums for such taxi app drivers that discusses how passengers misbehave and how drivers have to sometime go thru the verbal and physical trauma.
And then there are concerns about the geolocation feature provided by Uber and Lyft. It is not 100% reliable and hence there is a lot of work to do over there.
It is not new for a driver who follows the map thinking that he is moving towards the well-lit location for the pickup but end up driving down the dark, lonely valley.
Consider this – you have a stranger in your car while you drive. This thought itself possess a big risk for the driver’s safety and raises concerns over how such taxi apps can better the situation so that drivers to give their 100% best.
Driver Retention as a way-out Solution
The venture-backed tech startups work closely in competition to gain major market share. On the hand, they deal with the pressure to perform better and show results to their investors, on the operational front they race towards recruiting and retaining their drivers through a systemized screening process.
The thrust and energy with which the hiring takes place, drivers get overwhelmed by the process and haste so much that security feels like an afterthought. The basic level of training is given with more emphasis on device usage and technicality.
Seldom there are safety instructions and this calls for the online taxi booking system to be dynamic enough to integrate drivers’ safety and driving instructions.
And therefore, a sense of responsibility must prevail amongst the ridesharing companies that urge drivers for more safety precautions at every possible touchpoint.
Just like how customers riding in the taxi has an emergency button and facility to share their location to family, similar can be done for drivers.
But instead, companies thrive on driver rating and reward them based on that. This is just one small parameter considering riders may well forget to rate or ignore the survey. In such a case, driver retention becomes important as this will attract loyalty towards the company.
Sure, there are other parameters like rides accepted vs rejected ratio to push them up but its not enough motivation. Safety is the greatest motivation that drivers can have while riding for taxi apps.
More than the tangible safety, drivers also look for a few intangible benefits like job security, or a monthly bonus for a continuous partnership.
Giving employment status to long term drivers with high ratings will also push other drivers to perform their best and stay consistent with the same taxi service provider.
This partnership can further bloom with companies offering a plethora of employment benefits like health insurance, taxes benefits, lawsuits, and even covering the car’s liability.
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- Driver Safety is the big issue for e-hailing services - April 27, 2019