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Lyft’s dash signs illegal, despite many drivers’ assumptions

Lighted signs are a tool of the trade for those who provide on-demand transportation, but local Lyft drivers report they were never warned they are illegal in Pennsylvania.

Lyft, an international company that contracts local drivers to transport riders communicated to them through a phone app, offers a lighted dashboard sign called the Lyft Amp for drivers who transport more than 250 customers. The Amp, according to Lyft, is used to make their drivers’ cars more recognizable.

The problem is that Pennsylvania law dictates that lighted signs cannot be placed on a car’s dashboard. “I didn’t know it was illegal. It was sent to me by Lyft so I used it,” said John Konoski, an Uber and Lyft driver who was given a warning from state police for using his Amp. “I was under the assumption that if we get decals or signs, the company already has compliance.”

Pennsylvania’s vehicle code states a vehicle can only have an illuminated sign if it is placed on the top or back of the vehicle, and if that vehicle falls under an approved list.

While Lyft vehicles could be seen as taxis, which are allowed to have lighted signs, state law says the dashboard sign is a hindrance.

“The lights are allowed on top of a vehicle and the rear of the vehicle. They just can’t be on the front portion because it would obstruct their view and make it more difficult to see,” said Trooper Angela Beiber, community services officer with Troop F in Montoursville.

Lyft, as well as its drivers, see the Amp as an important part of the business because it gives passengers peace of mind knowing they are getting in the right car. When a customer is waiting for a Lyft to pick them up, a color displayed on their phone corresponds with the color of the driver’s Amp.

“Amp has a dynamic color-coded effect, allowing for easier pickups and vehicle identification, highlighting drivers’ cars so passengers know exactly which ride is theirs,” Campbell Matthews, a Lyft spokesman, said.

The Amps are designed to specifically be placed on the dashboard of a driver’s vehicle. A scrolling marquee on the back of the device welcomes the rider when they get in the car.

Lyft is looking at methods to get the signs on the dashboard of its drivers’ cars and is “actively engaging in conversations with state officials,” Matthews said.

But, according to one local state representative, working to change the regulations through the state could take years.

“It would be a lot easier if it was handled administratively,” said Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock Township. “That is something that can be done even if it’s written in law.”

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