Nina Brav

Writer, Blogger, Entrepreneur

It Was Arson

Knew at once,

When bright eyes caused sparks,

Carefully fanned between

Subtle smiles and soft chatter.

Star covered sky

Broke open, gently

Showered us in champagne rain

Until Chandon soaked bodies

Lit with desire.

Flames entangled us—

Blazed, but unburned.

Inflamed, but unafraid.

 

So we spent the night

Aflame, unencumbered,

Dancing to soft rhythms.

Sneaking tastes of blackberry, Pinot

From molten lips and craving bodies.

Difficult to end,

Harder yet to repeat,

Moonlit night

Burned to memory.

Cogburn Law Essay

Should Uber and Lyft drivers be subject to the same special insurance and liability rules that taxicabs operate under?

By Marina Mehrtens (marinamehrtens@gmail.com)

 

              “Oh my gosh,” my driver exclaimed. She propped open her car door to survey the damage. “Are you okay?” she asked.

              I rubbed my arm. It was a little tense from the bang against the car window but overall, I was more shocked than injured. When I woke up that hot morning in May, I had not expected my Uber driver to get into a car accident. In fact, I had never really thought about the possibility of my being a part of an Uber car accident at all.

              Whether it was my driver’s fault for making too wide a u-turn or the other driver’s fault for following too closely, I did not really care. I was just thankful that in my hurry I had not forgotten to put on my seat belt and that the accident was minor. Nonetheless, that moment triggered a number of events. I had to use the Uber application to report the accident. I made a visit to Urgent Care to confirm that my injuries were as minor as they felt. Finally, I received several calls from Uber’s insurance company asking me to describe the accident in detail.

              My accident was not the first to take place in an Uber and it will not be the last. This is one of many reasons that insurance, liability, and safety regulations for ride share companies, like Uber and Lyft, are hot topics. Over the past three years, cities and states have been more actively regulating Transportation Network Companies (TNCs); however, there are still regulatory gaps that create risk for TNC consumers.

              My car accident took place in North Carolina in May of 2018. Per North Carolina Senate Bill 54[1], my Uber driver was required to have primary automobile liability insurance in the amount of $1,500,000 to cover death, injury, or destruction of property while I was riding in her car.

              Had my accident taken place in a taxicab, the insurance requirements would have been quite different. Raleigh Regional Newspaper, The News and Observer, notes that in May of 2018, “[Taxi] liability requirements were the same as the minimum required for any motorist in North Carolina: $30,000 for bodily injury or death; $60,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people; and $25,000 for property.[2]

              Thankfully, my injuries were not severe, but had they been, Uber or Lyft would have provided me more protection as a consumer.

              Insurance is just one piece of the consumer protection equation. One of the most serious areas of concern for TNCs is their process for conducting background checks. Per, Cogburn Law Office’s Overview of Taxicab Liability, taxi drivers undergo extensive fitness, medical, and training certification, along with a more rigorous background check process. “Drivers cannot have been:

  • Convicted of any felony in the past five years.
  • Been found guilty of driving under the influence within the previous three years.
  • Been convicted of any offense involving the sale of controlled substances, dangerous drugs or narcotics.[3]

              In Raleigh, North Carolina, this background check and certification process requires finger printing, a copy of the drivers’ driving history, and a medical exam. The driver must pass a 50 question test, a drug test, and they must attend a new driver class.[4]

              Uber, by comparison, states on its website that although their evaluation of background checks may vary from city to city, Uber investigates drivers for “major driving violations or a recent history of minor driving violations or convictions for felonies, violent crimes, sexual offenses, and registered sex offender status, among other types of criminal records.[5]

              This review process is notably less comprehensive than the background check requirements for Raleigh taxicab drivers. Additionally, CNN reports that there have been thousands of instances of Uber drivers passing their background checks despite having been convicted of felonies.[6]

              There are clearly stark differences between the insurance, safety, inspection, and background check requirements for taxis and TNCs. The taxi industry and TNCs, as comparable businesses, should be consistent in how they regulate. TNCs should be required to meet the same special insurance requirements of taxi drivers in their jurisdiction. In North Carolina, we see that Uber's regulations already surpass those of local taxicabs. Taxicab companies and TNCs should also have the same background check requirements. Like taxis, TNC's background checks should be recurring over a regular period, and should also include fingerprinting and a review of the driver's driving history.

             That said, demanding that TNCs meet the stringent requirements of taxicabs could stifle the innovation and accessibility that Uber and its counterparts have created in the marketplace. Part of what makes TNCs so valuable is not only the improved process for supplying drivers to riders, but also the employment opportunities it has created in an industry that previously had high barriers to entry. Increased regulation will add cost to TNC businesses. If that cost is passed on to TNC driver applicants, it could limit participation.

             Ultimately, it's regulators' responsibility to improve insurance and liability requirements for TNCs. With consumer safety and protection in mind, regulators should create and enforce consistent regulations for both taxi companies and TNCs.  Ideally,  they could accomplish this without significantly limiting the accessibility that helped make this new segment of the transportation industry so successful and valuable.

 

[1] https://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/SessionLaws/PDF/2015-2016/SL2015-237.pdf

[2] https://www.newsobserver.com/news/traffic/article174150876.html

[3] https://cogburnlaw.com/blog/overview-taxicab-liability/

[4] https://www.raleighnc.gov/safety/content/Police/Articles/TaxiInspections.html

[5] https://help.uber.com/h/6970e704-95ac-4ed3-9355-e779a86db366

[6] https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/01/us/felons-driving-for-uber-invs/index.html

Pragmatic Post / Droopy Eyes

I haven’t been writing in a while. To be honest I’ve been busy. Quite busy. 14 hour days, it feels like, followed by long nights. I’ve been on a mission for a while. I’ve accomplished so much of it, yet sometimes so little still.  

I'm tired. Physically and somewhat emotionally. I need to lay on an island for 30 days and dive into deep waters and fly through the skies. I think I need escape. 

but for the sake of responsibility and pragmatism I stay. I work. I fight onward still. This mission is not yet accomplished.

This Is Why

This is why

I haven't tried

Or texted

Or videod

Or dated

Or liked

Or loved

Or tried again.

Because smiles

And kisses

And comfort

And hugs

And sex

And showers

And butterflies

Are not enough

To outweight

Uncertainty

Or waiting

Or jealousy

Or confusion

Or sadness

Or possiblity of hurt.

It does not outweigh fear.

Orange Volkswagen

Just when I was

Losing hope, I saw it

In the midst of

Storrow traffic,

Shining in sunlight

Only one in the city

In my 6 years of being

(A sign, perhaps?) 

Closed my eyes,

Made my wish,

Set it on its bumper.

Knew for the first time

In a long time

That I would be okay.

Wish You Well

Finding the courage to dial,

The hard part

Afraid to look weak

Open myself to criticism or

Long drawn out conversation

Intended to be quick,

Pulling leaves from trees

And bushes while I walk,

I glace up at smoky skies

Hit that dreadful phone icon.

 

No turning back.

 

I was surprised.

His voice still brings

Laugher and smiles

Memories of hiding

In crisp blue sheets

Baking apple pie

In a run down kitchen

Singing in his shark sedan

Voices drowned by stereo.

I thought these words

would be hardest

because I wanted

Them to be true.

I wasn't sure they were.

 

Then I said it.

 

To my shock they were

Not just true,

The truest words I'd ever spoken -

Truer than anger

Truer than regret

Truer than love

Lost

Then found

Then lost

Again. 

Boston

 

Bouncing on pavement

Over snow mounds that glisten

Silver from headlights or shinage that

Twinkles from Kenmore's north star.

Only light in dark skies. Only guide needed.

Never to lead us astray.

Sparkle in the Sun

I was not

am not

will not ever be

the only broken person

in this world

I know this from my travels

the strangers met

yellow brick road

Acutely covered

In colorful shards

of our past.

An omen of the journey forward

But oh, how they sparkle in the sunlight

Streams of color glittering

while we wade,

knee deep,

through rainbow uncertainty.

How could I not see beauty

In the fact that they

Like me

Like you

Like we

Have traveled

And will travel forward

Throwing old pieces

picking up new

Until, we too,

Sparkle in the sun.

Wish I Had

One year and five months ago

I wish I had treated myself nicer.

Instead, took blame

For your daddy issues

Internalized my own

Instead, told myself

You never loved me

Instead, let myself

Feel thrown away

 

I wish I had been gentle to me.

 

Petted my own hair

When I needed comfort

Tended more carefully

To wounds

Allowed myself to feel

Sadness

Without remorse

Allowed myself to feel.

 

I wish I had treated myself.

 

To less wine,

More bubble baths

To more travel,

Less bodies

To better books,

Better people,

Better shows on Netflix

 

I wish I had loved myself.

 

Instead I numbed myself

In turn demonized desires

Looked down on myself,

Weakness never an option

Easy to punish myself,

Push myself

Make heartbreak competive,

Hurt myself to win.

 

I think tomorrow I'll be kinder.

 

Gently tell myself

Your issues

Are not mine,

My issues

Are not you.

Treat myself to

Pink cake and

Champagne, and

Maybe a cartoon.

Know that

All will be fine

But, lovingly,

Remind myself

It doesn't have to be

Tomorrow.