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Petition calls for vomit bags in all taxis, ride-hailing after fatal B.C. crash

Transportation Ministry says it is looking into the suggestion
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Crash in Burnaby on Feb. 18, 2024 involved four women from Maple Ridge, killing one. Now a petition is calling for vomit bags to be mandated in all hired vehicles after the Uber driver had to pull over on the side of Highway 1. (Shane MacKichan/Special to The News)

A petition is calling on all hired vehicles in B.C. to have vomit bags on hand, following a fatal crash where an Uber driver pulled off on the side of a highway.

The petition, “Mandate Vomit Bags in All Hired Vehicles in British Columbia,” was started Feb. 25 by Jeanine Hayes. It urges lawmakers and regulatory bodies overseeing transportation services in B.C. to take immediate action and mandate that the vehicles carry vomit bags at all times.

Hayes started the petition after a friend’s daughter was killed in crash where an Uber driver pulled off on the side of Highway 1. The Uber, a Tesla, was then hit by an SUV. Two other people were left critically injured in the Feb. 18 crash.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge woman killed, two critically injured in crash

“A tragic incident took place where the lack of vomit bags in a hired vehicle led to an otherwise unnecessary stop on the side of the road, resulting in fatal consequences. This could have been prevented if vomit bags were mandatory in all cars for hire,” reads the petition.

The petition has garnered 1,078 signatures as of Friday afternoon (March 1).

In an emailed statement, Uber Canada told Black Press Media that it expects drivers to follow the law which includes stopping a trip where it’s legal and safe to do so, as stated in its community guidelines. The statement added that drivers are independent contractors and its up to their discretion on whether they choose to make vomit bags available.

“The details of this crash are heartbreaking, and we offer our deepest sympathies to all those impacted.”

The Transportation Ministry says it is looking into the suggestion of mandating vomit bags, adding it is “the expectation that passenger-directed vehicles are equipped appropriately to ensure the highest level of safety and comfort.”

“Additionally, drivers are to only stop and pull over when they can do so in a safe and legal manner.”

BC Taxi Association president Mohan Kang told Black Press Media the petition has come “totally out of (the) blue.” He added that if someone does get sick in a taxi, the passenger would be charged an additional fee so the driver can get the vehicle cleaned.

But asked if having vomit bags would help prevent that fee, Kang said no.

“Where will the bags be kept before they’re used even? In the backseat? The guy who’s already so drunk, do you think he will be able to use that in the car?”

Instead, Kang pointed to better training. He said drivers should know better than to pull off on the side of the road.

“The government should be looking more at the training part than simply thinking that the vomit bags will be helpful.”

In B.C., the requirements for becoming a driver for a passenger-directed vehicle, such as Uber or Lyft, are a minimum Class 4 driver’s licence, which requires that drivers undergo driver training and road testing. No additional training program is required.

Black Press Media has reached out to the Passenger Transportation Board.