Uber increases minimum age for drivers after fatal accidents

The Uber App in Paris
A driver in 2017 opens the Uber app. (photo: Pe3check / DepositPhotos)

Uber is taking measures following a series of fatal accidents involving its drivers in Amsterdam. The ride-hailing service is increasing the minimum age for its drivers from 18 to 21 years, and new drivers must have at least a year of driving experience. Uber, in cooperation with safe traffic association VVN, is also developing a mandatory road safety course for all its drivers under the age of 25, NOS reports.

The age limit will only apply to new drivers, existing drivers who are under the age of 21 can continue to work for Uber. 

Since December, four people were killed in three accidents involving Uber drivers in Amsterdam. A 9-year-old girl was also seriously injured in a hit-and-run with a taxi, though for which company the driver works was not revealed. It is worth noting that in all three fatal accidents, the Uber driver was 21 years old or older. The drivers are 21, 27 and 40 years old, according to the broadcaster. How much driving experience they had is not clear.

Many countries, including Belgium, the United Kingdom and Denmark, already have an age limit of 21 for Uber drivers. In Belgium the drivers must also have a driver's license for at least three years. 

Thijs Edmondts, head of Uber in the Benelux region, called it unacceptable that lives are lost in traffic accidents. "Our sympathy goes out to the relatives of the victims of these accidents. It is terrible that this happened", he said to NOS. "We are convinced that what we are implementing today will take away part of the safety concerns." 

Uber is also starting a task force with the municipality of Amsterdam to investigate all accidents involving Uber taxis. The company is also working on adding a voice function to their app, so that drivers don't need to have their phones in their hands to operate the app while driving. 

The Dutch association for insurers VNV called the measures Uber is taking a step in the right direction. "But the problem is broader than just Uber", spokesperson Oscar van Elferen said to NOS. The fact that drivers must have at least a year of driving experience will help, he believes. "But it is also not the case that the damage statistics go down very significantly if drivers have had their driver's license for a year." VNV would prefer a thorough investigation into improving road safety for taxi drivers. 

Safe traffic association VVN is also positive about the measures Uber is taking. "They are working on road safety" a spokesperson said to the broadcaster. "They could still do something about the tariff system though, so drivers have to make fewer tips per day." According to the spokesperson, many Uber drivers have to work long days to make enough money. "That leads to fatigue and therefore less concentration."

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