Skip to main content

Uber to start watching its drivers more closely

how to delete your uber account
Prathan Chorruangsak / Shutterstock
Uber is introducing a new driver-monitoring feature sure to arouse mixed feelings among its drivers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Most drivers probably will welcome additional information about customer ratings, but at the same time may feel they’re being monitored too closely.

There will be at least two sets of cities involved in testing new driver monitoring systems. In each case, the drivers’ smartphones will be used both to collect and transmit the data and to report to the drivers.

In New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and at least six other cities, drivers will receive reports after each trip on how smooth their driving was, including scores for acceleration and braking. If the drivers go over the speed limit, Uber will send an immediate alert, not waiting for the after-trip report. If that sounds Big Brother-ish to you, you’re not alone.

A separate test in unidentified cities will watch for drivers touching their cell phones while in motion. By using the phones’ internal gyroscopes Uber will be able to tell if drivers are sending text messages. Texting while driving is a safety concern. It’s also illegal in 46 states plus Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Island, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Many Uber drivers bristle over the fact that they’re considered independent contractors, and would prefer to be treated as employees. And since they are considered independent contractors, drivers may consider monitoring their phone use invasive. Commercial-driver employees have been monitored by employers via various technologies for at least 50 years. (The original method employed motion-activated pens that marked a circular paper card as it rotated inside a locked clock in a truck cab.) But independent contractors are assumed to be just that — independent.

According to Uber, the purpose of the monitoring is to provide better feedback about rider ratings, the Wall Street Journal reports. If, for example, a driver gets high scores for behavior but poor driving scores, resulting in low ratings, that information could help the drivers. Uber also said the monitoring reports during the testing won’t be used by the company to penalize drivers with low scores. However, the company did not rule out negative consequences for low-scoring drivers in the future.

Editors' Recommendations

Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Commerce teams. Bruce uses smart devices…
California sues Uber, Lyft to force them to make drivers employees

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is suing Uber and Lyft over their alleged misclassification of their workers as independent contractors instead of as employees. 

Becerra filed a lawsuit against the two rideshare companies on Tuesday, saying that they violated California's new Assembly Bill 5 law that requires app-based companies to identify contractors as regular employees of the company. Under the bill, contractors are eligible for basic protections like minimum-wage requirements, health benefits, and Social Security. 

Read more
Uber could suspend accounts for riders and drivers with coronavirus

Uber is working with various public health organizations in deciding whether or not to temporarily suspend the accounts of riders and drivers if they test positive for COVID-19, also commonly referred to as the coronavirus. 

The rideshare company is working closely with public health officials in every state to decide if those who tested positive or have come in contact with the coronavirus should have their accounts suspended. Public health organizations can reach out to Uber's Law Enforcement Response Team (ULERT) with information on individuals who have contracted the virus.

Read more
Uber cleared to restart self-driving car testing in California
uber self driving testing california test

Uber is the latest company that California has granted a permit to test self-driving vehicles -- with a trained human driver still present. 

Reuters reports that California’s Department of Motor Vehicles issued Uber the permit on Wednesday, February 5. The permit was issued to Uber Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), which is tasked with developing successful and safe self-driving technology for the company. 

Read more