AUSTIN (KXAN) — A woman is outraged after she says she caught her Lyft driver falling asleep behind the wheel. She sent us video of the driver hitting rumble strips and veering out of the lane.
“I was like “Excuse me, hello! And she kind of wakes and was like, “I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry,” said Aira McGilber, who claims her Lyft driver fell asleep when she was being given a ride home early Sunday morning.
“You can see through the mirror her eyes, she’s just nodding on and off, on and off, and I keep going “HELLO!” Keep saying “Excuse me.”
The video she captured from that ride shows the driver’s eyes getting heavy. But it’s the response from the company, after she complained, that really disturbs her.
“Thank you for letting us know that the driver fell asleep. I’ve gone ahead and added a five dollar coupon off for your next ride, but the coupon is good for the next 30 days and will automatically apply to your next ride,” McGilber said as she read the message sent to her from Lyft on her phone. “It kind of made me disgusted that it felt like my life was worth a five-dollar coupon.”
Lyft has fully reimbursed her for the ride and promised she won’t be connected again with that driver.
“I don’t want anyone to get hurt. I can get hurt. Someone else could get hurt. Driving, you’re operating a two-ton vehicle. And you have to always be aware of that,” said Timothy Bray, who drives for two ride-sharing companies.
He says he does what’s necessary to keep his passengers safe.
“You should always put safety first, and if you know you are not at 100%, you shouldn’t be out,” Bray said. “If I need to take a break, I get out and stretch my legs or stop driving for a little bit.”
McGilber says she wants to send a message for all ride-sharing drivers who may be pushing the limit.
“You shouldn’t be taking in riders if you don’t feel capable of doing it. because not only did she put my life in danger, she risked her life as well,” McGilber said.
Lyft sent KXAN a full statement on the allegations, saying: “Lyft takes driver and passenger safety incredibly seriously. We investigate any reports of fatigued or unsafe driving, and such reports can result in a ban from our platform. We want drivers to be as rested as possible out on the road. To keep the Lyft community safe, for every 14 hours a driver is in driver mode, whether they are consecutive or not, the app will require a six-hour break.”
Lyft policies on fatigued driving
Lyft has built-in protections to try to ward against sleepy drivers. Drivers are required to take a six-hour break for every 14 hours they’re in driver mode. The break cannot be interrupted. And those 14 hours of operation do not have to be consecutive.
Once the 14 hours are logged, the app shuts you down from taking any more fares until you go through the break time. A driver can take a break any time they like.
The safety rules, however, say nothing about a driver who may be on a second platform such as Uber. A driver could switching over to that service, when their Lyft program goes into break mode.
A potential problem for investors
These issues could matter to the company’s bottom line. Lyft went public last Friday. The stock price soared almost nine-percent for the first day on the market.
That lifted company’s valuation to $25 billion. The price dropped today by about 11 percent, at just over $69 a share.
Rival Uber is set to hold an IPO soon as well. Some reports project the company will open with a $120 billion dollar valuation.