Uber is forcing six-hour rest breaks on busy U.S. drivers

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Uber announced today it would be restricting drivers to 12-hour shifts, citing concerns that those long stretches on the road could cause risky "drowsy driving". It will not reactivate to pick up fares until the mandatory six-hour rest period is over.

This is Uber's first nationwide move to restrict the amount of time drivers spend on the road, although the company does require drivers in New York City to comply with the city's 10-hour limit, imposed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The US policy change comes a month after Uber introduced a similar policy in the United Kingdom, which logs drivers out for six hours after they work 10 in a row.

The update is expected to roll out nationally over a two-week period.

That should help combat an issue that's making the roads unsafe, Sachin Kansal, Uber's director of product management, said in a blog post. In its statement to the Post, Uber emphasised it was implementing the new restrictions regardless of who was technically legally responsible for controlling how long the drivers were on the road.

Uber's new policy is partly a public safety concern-according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving causes 6,000 fatal crashes every year.

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The feature will count most driving time, including being stopped at a light, with the exception of a few things like when you're waiting in an airport parking lot.

Driving time, according to Uber, will be measured by Global Positioning System and telematics in order to detect whether or not the vehicle is moving.

As VentureBeat pointed out, many people moonlight for different ride-hailing companies, so after they drive 12 hours for Uber, they could simply switch to another service.

Uber is cracking down on dangerously long shifts from its drivers. The company is already taking measures that will ensure that passengers are not paired with drivers reaching the upper limit of their work time.

Drivers will see notifications on their screen periodically after 10 hours, and when they hit their 12-hour limit, their shift will be automatically ended. "One of the other reasons why we notify the drivers - 2 hours, 1 hour and 30 minutes before the limit - is exactly so they can manage those situations as well".