The death of Uber passenger Nicholas Cameron on March 21, 2018 has led some to question whether there is sufficient screening to ensure that Uber drivers are capable of performing their duties safely. According to Global News, the accident occurred en route to Pearson Airport when then Uber driver, Abdihared Bishar Mussa, had to pull over on the Gardiner Expressway because his cell phone had not been properly mounted on the hands-free dock installed in the vehicle. The car was rear-ended when Mr. Mussa attempted to re-enter traffic, causing the death of Mr. Cameron and injury to another passenger. Mr. Mussa received four charges including dangerous driving causing death. The accident prompted Cameron’s loved ones to question whether Uber and other ride sharing drivers have adequate training.
The passing of Bill 571, now Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 546, on May 3, 2016 mandated that Uber and other ride sharing services that wish to operate in Toronto obtain a license to operate as a Private Transportation Company (PTC). PTC vehicles must undergo a city improved inspection and obtain a Safety Standard Certificate (SSC). SSC’s must be submitted every 6 months for vehicles which travel more than 40,000 km in the previous year and yearly for vehicles driven less than 40,000 km in the previous year.
Drivers for PTC’s must obtain a PTC license. However, Bill 571 removed the requirement that drivers-for-hire participate in a 17-day training program run by the city, CPR and First Aid training. Municipal Code Chapter 546-86 merely requires an individual be to 18 years of age, speak English, have one year of driving experience, and have a G-level or equivalent driver’s license. Uber has additional requirements that drivers be over 21 years of age and drive a vehicle which is not more than 7 years old.
Only persons with certain Criminal Code of Canada or Highway Traffic Act convictions will be denied a PTC license. SSC’s may ensure that PTC vehicles are safe to drive, but without requirements from the City of Toronto or individual PTC’s that PTC drivers receive training or undergo an evaluation of their skills and decision making, it is difficult to determine whether individual Uber drivers have the driving and decision-making skills to navigate obstacles that might arise during a trip.
If you are a passenger in a PTC vehicle that is involved in a motor vehicle accident the issue of insurance coverage will become important. Intact Insurance is the first company to offer coverage for all passengers and drivers who use Uber in Ontario. Uber drivers must advise their insurer that they are participating in ride sharing. Drivers under the Intact policy receive $1 million in third-party liability coverage, along with standard accident benefits, when they are available to accept a passenger but aren’t currently in the process of picking up or dropping of a customer. Under the Intact policy, during a trip, drivers and passengers have $2 million in third party liability coverage and standard accident benefits.
PTC drivers and passengers should be aware that $2 million in third party liability coverage may fall short of covering medical costs and other out-of-pocket expenses in the event of a serious collision. If you were the passenger or the driver of a PTC vehicle involved in a motor accident call the team at Jasmine Daya & Co. at 416-967-9100 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.