Personal Injury

B.C. took right road to ride-sharing regulation: Mahabir

By Tony Poland, AdvocateDaily.com Associate Editor

Toronto personal injury lawyer Jessica Mahabir tells The Lawyer’s Daily that she finds it “interesting” to see what British Columbia has done to regulate the ride-share industry — and Ontario could take note.

According to The Lawyer’s Daily, the B.C. government has released a series of regulations for governing ride-hailing apps that include requiring all drivers to hold a commercial driver’s licence and forcing companies to conduct reviews of drivers and issue a record check certificate for those who meet provincial requirements.

B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the plan will enable ride-sharing companies to apply to enter the market in the fall, “while ensuring the safety of passengers and promoting accessibility options in the industry,” The Lawyer’s Daily reports.

Companies will be responsible for hiring and monitoring drivers, ensuring vehicles are mechanically sound and for reducing fatigue through adherence to hours of service requirements, according to the publication.

The Lawyer’s Daily also reports the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) will sell a blanket insurance product to the companies.

Mahabir, an associate with Derfel Injury Lawyers, tells the publication it appears British Columbia has done its homework.

“B.C. seems to have really considered all the issues and thought it out before allowing them into the province, which is the opposite to what happened in Ontario,” she says. “In Ontario, they let the apps in and then sort of did the regulating afterward, so it looks as though B.C. has been able to look at all the different markets and what the issues were, and then really regulate in advance.”

Mahabir points to a recent Ryerson University Urban Analytics Institute report, which cited the lack of training given to drivers of ride-sharing services in Toronto, and tells The Lawyer’s Daily there is very little required other than having a full provincial G licence.

“So a person could be as young as 18 and be driving people around a city they may be unfamiliar with,” she tells the publication. “But in B.C. they’ve made it mandatory to have a commercial licence in order to be driver, and that requires several years’ training, a medical examination and an in-vehicle test.

“And that is something that the Ryerson report is saying we should consider doing in Ontario. It’s fine that we now have an insurance product that covers these drivers, but let’s try to prevent these accidents from happening in the first place, so we don’t have to rely on insurance policies.”

Mahabir tells The Lawyer’s Daily that issues of liability are going to be a “huge factor” in the future.

“I think it is going to be interesting to see how the companies react to individual jurisdictions attempting to impose their own rules and regulations on something that has been a free-for-all up to now,” she says.

“I think it’s a great idea to have mandatory training for their drivers, but I don’t know if that is necessarily something [companies are] going to want. They are probably going to be concerned about who foots the bill, and I can’t see them very happy to have their industry more regulated.”

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