Can Uber Drivers Refuse Long Trips?

Uber is a great solution when you want to go on a short distance in a city. But can you use an Uber for a long trip? Can Uber drivers refuse long trips?

Uber drivers can refuse long trips. The Uber app is capable of alerting drivers if the trip will take longer than 45 minutes. In which case, they can decide whether they want to take the trip or not.

Refusal to take long trips will not affect a driver’s ratings negatively.

Read on to learn more about taking an Uber for long trips and the Uber long trip refusal policy.

Can Uber Drivers Refuse Long Trips?

Uber drivers can refuse long trips. The Uber app is capable of alerting drivers if the trip will take longer than 45 minutes. In which case, they can decide whether they want to take the trip or not.

Let’s look at an example of an Uber driver refusing a long trip.

Adrian Smith, an Uber driver in Santa Monica, California, received a ride request for a trip to the Staples Center in Los Angeles. That was a little over 14 miles to drive for US$15. He decided not to accept it.

A few minutes later, he received another ride request about the same travel time and distance, but this time, it was approximately US$17. Again, he refused to accept it. Then, again, for the same travel time and distance, he received a ride request, but this time, it was worth US$94. He then accepted the request.

Had this happened in 2019, such a strategy would not work. His ratings or account status would be badly affected, and, worse, he could eventually be denied to continue driving for Uber. It was only in 2020 when Uber began to step up its policies in the U.S., making the app more convenient for drivers and riders.

However, this policy change may not yet be applicable all over the country. One thing’s for sure, though, that implementation in California has already started.

Uber started to roll out changes in its policy as early as January 2020. This is in response to a new law in California that concerns approximately 400,000 drivers.

The Assembly Bill (AB) 5 is a legislative bill that does not directly talk about the Uber business. Instead, it focuses on clarifying the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor.

can uber drivers refuse long trips

How Does Assembly Bill 5 Affect Uber?

In the case of Uber, it falls under the “Gig economy” type of business. Thus, making its workers fall under the category of independent contractors. This means that Uber does not have an obligation to pay their workers’ Social Security or even their payroll taxes. Uber does not have to comply with specific federal laws that pertain to wages, working hours, and working conditions, among others.

AB 5 intends to tighten the policy about the qualifications of a contractor. It emphasizes the freedom of the worker from being controlled by the company they work for. It allows a worker to perform work outside the company’s normal course of business. Furthermore, the worker can engage in a similar type of work for another “gig economy” company if his schedule permits.

Harvard Law School professor of labor and employment law Benjamin Sachs once explained that employers often address changes in the law by tweaking business practices. That way, businesses would be able to avoid responsibility pretty much like how AB 5 affects Uber.

However, on a more positive note, employers do this to continue their business operations with success. We can’t repudiate that in most cases, tweaking business practices means creating a more harmonious relationship with their workers. This is exceptionally true in the case of Uber and its drivers.

Advantages of AB 5 to Uber Drivers

When California released AB 5, Uber did not waste time taking necessary actions to make its policies in line with its provisions. And if there are people who greatly benefit from these policy changes, among them are the drivers.

1. Uber Driver Can Now Refuse Long Trips

Can Uber drivers refuse a trip? Before, they can’t, but now, it is easier for Uber drivers to refuse long trips. Before implementing AB 5, Uber drivers were forced to take ride requests that were hours long.

Aside from that, such long trips also allowed them only to earn a minimal amount. While they may have the option to decline such trips, it would reflect their ratings or account status big time.

2. Uber Driver Can Now Know Their Next Destination

In the past, the Uber app did not even allow its drivers to know their next destination until, of course, the rider would tell them. Lucky you if the rider was courteous enough to immediately alert you that the ride would take approximately three hours. Otherwise, you would have no option but to take it.

3. Uber Driver Can Now Participate in Promotions

Refusing to take long trips did not only impact the ratings of Uber drivers. It also impaired them from participating in promotions released by Uber. In most cases, these promotions are based on the number of trips that Uber drivers can make daily.

If drivers were forced to take long trips at minimum rates, it would lower their chance to meet the daily quota. Worse, they would end up underpaid.

4. Uber Driver Can Now Know the Destination, Travel Time, and Distance

Now, the Uber app allows drivers to know more details about the ride requests they receive. Drivers can now see the destination of the riders. Most importantly, they can now see details concerning travel time and distance.

To make it even more convenient, drivers are even alerted if travel time will take longer than 45 minutes. In which case, they always have the option to refuse it.

can Uber drivers refuse a trip

Suffice it to say that AB 5 does not only allow Uber drivers to refuse long trips, but it also enables them to participate in promotions successfully.

Disadvantages of AB 5 to Uber Drivers

As mentioned earlier, declining trips do not harm Uber drivers anymore. If you are an Uber driver in California, you have the freedom to do this too right this very moment. But it is noteworthy to mention that such a strategy can still hurt you, especially if you unconsciously abuse your right to do so.

1. You’re Declining Too Many Ride Requests

Unconsciously, you might already be declining too many ride requests because you always tell yourself that it is your legal right. You start to have excuses such as the trips are far or the fare is low. Before you know it, you have been declining too many trips already, which Uber can monitor. The worst that can happen here is if you end up jobless with such an attitude. At the end of the day, it all boils down to attitude and discipline.

2. You’re an Independent Contractor

The other possible disadvantage I see does not directly result from the changes in the Uber policy. Instead, it results from the fact that Uber drivers are considered independent contractors. This means that they fall under the category of self-employed. Therefore, when it comes to paying taxes, Social Security, and health insurance, among others, they have to file this on their own. Failure to do so will most likely result in penalties. Then again, it all boils down to discipline.

Now that you know the answer to the question “Can Uber drivers refuse long trips?” let’s now tackle the advantages and disadvantages of AB 5 to Uber riders below.

Advantages of AB 5 to Uber Riders

AB 5 has allowed Uber to make necessary upgrades to their app to the advantage of Uber drivers and Uber riders’ advantage.

1. Riders Can Choose a Driver That Match Them More Conveniently

The app now enables riders to find drivers that match them more conveniently than before. When requesting a ride, the app now indicates the driver’s arrival time. This allows riders to be more patient when waiting for their ride. Also, the app searches for drivers that usually take routes similar to where the rider is headed. This strategy makes it more practical for both the driver and the rider. Thus, a smooth business operation for Uber.

2. Conflict Is Prevented Between Uber Driver and Rider

Such a strategy results in a more harmonious relationship between the driver and the rider. This enables the driver only to accept ride requests that are not against his own volition. Thus, preventing conflict between him and his rider.

Disadvantages of AB 5 to Uber Riders

We can’t deny the fact that for every advantage, there will always be a corresponding disadvantage. In the case of Uber’s policy change following AB 5, the disadvantage for riders is that they might find it a little difficult to book rides for long trips. Two main factors can affect this scenario. They are the following:

  1. The fare is low; and
  2. Your destination is not a usual route taken by Uber drivers.

Let’s go back to the first scenario I mentioned involving a certain Uber driver named Adrian Smith. But this time, let’s delve into it from the perspective of the Uber rider. If you were Smith’s Uber rider, would you pay him US$15 or US$17 for a ride from Santa Monica to the Staples Center?

Absolutely, right? But would you agree to pay him US$94? Maybe, yes, if you were in a hurry and you did not have a choice. But if you had the choice, for sure, you wouldn’t book it and wait until you find a cheaper Uber ride.

Since Uber drivers can refuse long trips any time they want to, this might prevent riders from booking successfully as soon as possible. There is a likelihood that it would take them hours before they could finally book one. But, to be honest, if you are willing to pay high rates, for sure, you will get an Uber driver in seconds.

ill Uber driver accept long trips

This is especially true if your destination is not the usual route taken by Uber drivers. In which case, surge pricing is inevitable.

Other Upgrades Made By Uber

Aside from allowing drivers to reject long trips, Uber has also made changes with regard to bonus releases. Previously, Uber would hand over a lump sum as soon as the driver met his quota. Now, Uber instead decreases its take and increases its pay for the driver’s rides in the future.

Uber has also run an initial test on the feasibility of allowing its drivers to set their own fares. This simulation was conducted at the three airports in California. When setting fares, there are several factors that Uber drivers must take into consideration. These include the following:

  1. Base fare;
  2. Travel time; and
  3. Distance ride.

This app feature is expected to allow drivers to bid for a reasonable fare. This feature can even allow drivers to undercut the rates. While there are no drivers who may be willing to lower their rates, it is possible that the rider politely requests it.

Conclusion – Can Uber Drivers Refuse a Long Trip?

Uber drivers now have the right to refuse long trips, but, for now, this policy is being implemented only in California. Upgrades in the Uber mobile app allow drivers to know the rider’s destination and the travel time and distance. Thus, allowing the driver to rightfully decide if he should accept the ride request or not.

The Uber mobile app alerts drivers if the trip takes longer than 45 minutes. Should the driver decide to reject the ride request, this will not negatively affect his account status. This has become his right following AB 5, which strengthens the rights of independent contractors.

This right of Uber drivers as independent contractors allows them to take control of their “business.” That way, just like any other business people, they can apply their own business strategy to earn more. And if they earn more, Uber as a company will profit from such a business strategy too. In which case, this policy change benefits both Uber and its drivers for as long as it is not abused.

Similarly, this policy change benefits riders, too, in the sense that the occurrence of rider-driver conflict may be avoided.

But then again, these updates are yet to be implemented in other parts of the U.S. For now, it is greatly enjoyed by Uber drivers in California.