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Uber driver napped as his passenger led highway chase: US police

NEW YORK — A passenger who got behind the steering wheel of an Uber car so that the driver could nap led the police on a highway chase in central New York, the state police said.

NEW YORK — A passenger who got behind the steering wheel of an Uber car so that the driver could nap led the police on a highway chase in central New York, the state police said.

The passenger, Juan R Carlos, 20, of the Bronx, hired the car to travel nearly 300 miles (483km) from Philadelphia to a college in Herkimer, New York, on Saturday (April 2), the police said.

At about 5.35am, the state police were monitoring traffic on Interstate 81 in Kirkwood, New York, a town near the Pennsylvania border, when a 2016 Hyundai Sonata went by at 86mph (138kmh), the police said.

Troopers attempted to stop the car, but it sped up and they eventually lost sight of it.

Behind the wheel, the police said, was Carlos. During the ride, Uber driver Corey Robinson, 43, of Philadelphia, became tired and asked Carlos to drive while he slept. Mr Robinson later woke up and asked why Carlos was driving so fast. He replied that the police were chasing them, the authorities said.

Mr Robinson demanded that his passenger-turned-driver pull over, but Carlos refused. The police said they found the car after it crashed into a guard rail in Colesville, New York. Both men were taken to UHS Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City, New York, treated for minor injuries and released.

The men were taken into custody, but Mr Robinson was released without charges, the police said. Carlos was charged with unlawfully fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle in the third degree, driving without a licence and several other traffic violations, the police said.

Uber said in a statement on Wednesday that both the driver and the rider had been suspended from using the service, and that the company was "reaching out to the authorities to assist in their investigation."

On Tuesday, the company's website published an article with the headline "A wake-up call to end drowsy driving." It did not specifically address the New York chase.

"We all know it's dangerous to get behind the wheel when we've been drinking * but what about when we're tired?" the post said. "Over 60 per cent of Americans admit they've driven while drowsy at least once in the past year. Yet sleep deprivation impairs our judgment just as much as alcohol — and is just as likely to result in a fatal crash." THE NEW YORK TIMES

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