Wednesday, January 8, 2014

News: Contractor for Uber involved in deadly accident

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Just before the new year, an accident in San Francisco left a 6 year-old girl dead and her mother critically wounded. The driver, Syed Muzzaraf, was behind the wheel of his Honda Pilot and turned into the family, who were utilizing the crosswalk at an intersection, without yielding to their right of way. Additional details are not clear at this time, but initial reports did not indicate the involvement of alcohol or any other controlled substance and the driver appeared to be entirely in control of the vehicle at the time.

While this would normally be buried in the local section of the newspaper and little more than a blip on the evening news, the fact that the driver was a contractor for the ride sharing service Uber has somehow raised it to the status of national news. Rather than focus on the dozens of other potential issues that this incident could help highlight, such as better pedestrian crosswalks or EMT response time or improved licensing requirements, the news media has instead decided to focus on whose insurance should foot the bill. They are trying to make the case to have Uber's commercial insurance cover the incident, even though Muzzaraf was not actively transporting an Uber customer at the time.

Rather than focusing on the causes for the incident, such as lack of driver patience or inadequate driver training, the attention has been shifted to avoid examining some of the deeper issues that create dangerous situations on our roadways. The death of young Sophia Liu will be trivialized in an effort to create a bigger story and the responsibility of the driver, Muzzaraf, will be minimized, allowing him to slip out of the limelight. If instead we focused on the underlying causes for the problems and made solutions to treat them instead of always only addressing the symptoms that bubble to the surface, we could help prevent these types of incidents in the first place.

We hope that Sophia's mother will recover from her injuries and our deepest sympathies go out to the Liu family for their loss.

More details on the accident can be found here.

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