The use of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft has, for many in Las Vegas, become a part of daily life. Residents and tourists alike rely on these companies to get around town. Yet a new bill, currently under consideration by Nevada lawmakers, could have the effect of driving ride-sharing businesses out of the state.
Many are wondering why such a measure was introduced to the legislature, and fear that it will pass. So, will it?
What’s in the bill?
One reason that Uber and Lyft became so dominant so quickly was that they found ways to avoid many of the laws that make taxis, limousines, and other for-hire transportation services expensive. Drivers, usually classified as contractors, did not have to obtain state business licenses, for example. Likewise, no laws had been established regarding how much insurance they had to carry. As a result, Uber drivers’ overhead costs were fairly low – all they needed, essentially, was a car and a driver’s license – and they could get behind the wheel with few setbacks.
The proposed bill will change all that. The measure, Senate Bill 226, would mandate that ride-sharing drivers in Nevada get business licenses and take out insurance policies with a minimum of $1.5 million in coverage when passengers are in the car. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “the ride-sharing companies say the insurance requirements would be the highest in the country” and that, as such, the amendment “would end ride-sharing in Nevada.”
But is the bill still somehow good for riders?
Consumers – that is, riders – have complained about the proposed laws and the changes they might bring. But lawmakers very much had riders’ safety in mind.
Studies show that ride-sharing accidents have more than tripled in the last three years. Unfortunately, in many cases, the drivers and their parent companies failed to carry enough insurance. As a result, passengers who suffered serious injuries were unable to get adequate compensation for their medical bills and related expenses. Only those who sought out qualified legal assistance were able to obtain some of the financial relief they were owed.
The legislation is, by almost every account, an imperfect solution. If ride-sharing services become more expensive, or leave town altogether, consumers will be both peeved and inconvenienced. Nevertheless, the measure underscores the importance of making sure passengers are adequately protected when they step into an Uber or Lyft.