Are Transportation Network Companies Catching Up to Safety Standards?

Recently, lawmakers made amendments to NJ Law A-3765, which addresses safety regulations and requirements for transportation network companies, also called TNCs (Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, etc.), for tightening security on things like TNC drivers’ criminal histories and fare regulation.

We, too, approve of New Jersey’s concern for passengers who choose to ride with TNCs, and we will always support efforts to protect the livery rights of passengers. However, our concern is not assuaged by the amendments to A-3765, and the same holds for many other business owners in the ground transportation industry.

While these new amendments for TNCs are a step in the right direction, they are still lacking when compared to the established requirements for limousine and chauffeured transportation companies. For a better understanding of why this law has yet to catch up with the safety requirements for vehicles and passengers that EmpireCLS abides by every day, we have highlighted the key differences between the industry regulations for limousine companies and TNCs.

Vehicle Safety Inspection Requirements

Limousine and chauffeured transportation companies in New Jersey are required to inspect their fleet far more frequently than TNCs are, even with the amendments to A-3765 in place. Before driving on the highway with the intention of picking up passengers, chauffeurs must inspect the vehicle’s condition. Additionally, companies must have their vehicles inspected every other year by the state. During off years, the owner must submit a condition report to the DMV. At EmpireCLS, we go above and beyond these requirements by rotating our fleet through a strict maintenance schedule and weekly inspections.
By comparison, vehicles operated by TNC drivers only need to have their vehicles inspected once every other year. TNCs are not held to nearly the same safety inspection standards as chauffeured transportation companies.

Vehicle Equipment

In addition to requiring regular inspections, New Jersey law also requires that limousine companies carry standard safety equipment. All limousines and other chauffeured transportation vehicles must be equipped with a two-way communications system that can communicate with dispatchers within a 100-mile radius. Limousines must also have an accessible first aid kit and fire extinguisher, in addition to sideboards if the vehicle floor is ten inches or more from the ground.

As for TNCs? Even under Law A-3765, there are no requirements that operators of TNC vehicles carry safety equipment of any kind.

Medical Standards and Controlled Substance Testing for Drivers

Not only do New Jersey laws ensure the safe condition of vehicles, but they also require that their drivers adhere to safe behaviors. All limousine operators in New Jersey must prove that they meet medical standards for commercial drivers and submit proof to the MVC. TNCs still do not fall under any requirements for commercial driver medical standards.
Limousine owners are also required to test drivers for dangerous controlled substances, in order to reduce the risk of injury to their passengers. TNCs must implement a “zero tolerance” substance policy, but they are not required to drug-test drivers. The only “protection” from driver substance abuse offered by Law A-3765 is that the zero tolerance policy is posted on the company website so that passengers can complain should they suspect that their driver is in violation of said policy. But why put passengers in a potentially dangerous situation in the first place?

Clearly, while Law A-3765 is well-intentioned, it fails to hold TNCs to the same stringent standards of safety that chauffeured transportation companies like EmpireCLS already meet and exceed.

Photo Credit: Abdullah AlBargan via flickr