Monika Traikov has struggled with the loss of her boyfriend, Nicholas Cameron, since the day he was killed in an Uber on March 21 and is speaking out for the first time.
“I had to take a lot of time off work not just because of physical injuries but also emotionally — it’s incredibly traumatizing losing someone that you love and care about,” she said.
“I was taking him to meet my family. We were planning for the future.”
Traikov and 28-year-old Cameron were riding in the back of an Uber on the way to the airport for their first vacation away together as a couple when they were rear-ended. Traikov said the driver seemed inexperienced and nervous and kept getting lost. The collision happened on the westbound lanes of the Gardiner Expressway near Royal York Road after the driver dropped his phone.
“I guess his phone was not mounted on the dock properly, it eventually fell off. He pulled over on the shoulder of the highway and then I don’t really remember this part because I was very stressed and just closed my eyes and was just waiting to get to the airport,” Traikov explained.
“But he had just pulled out without looking and we got hit from behind.”
Cameron was rushed to hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The Uber driver, 23-year-old Abdihared Bishar Mussa, was charged with four counts including dangerous driving causing death. He was released on $3,000 bail. The ride sharing service also issued a statement saying he would no longer be driving for Uber.
But Cameron’s family and girlfriend are not blaming the driver for what happened. They said the City of Toronto needs to increase safety training for drivers.
“We’re not trying to get revenge against Uber because that’s not going to bring Nick back. We’re just trying to warn people that there’s a real safety risk and we’re trying to prevent this from happening to somebody else’s family,” Patrick Cameron, Nicholas’ older brother, said.
Patrick said when Uber came to Toronto, the city abolished its 17-day mandatory training program for all vehicle for hire drivers. To drive an Uber, all you need is a G licence, fewer than nine demerit points, and no convictions for major Highway Traffic Act offences.
“I don’t think people realize how low the bar has been set. Chances are when you call an Uber or a Lyft, the driver will be safe and conscientious but the way the rules are set up right now, there’s also a risk that the person could be completely incompetent so it’s gambling with the safety of the public,” he said.
The family learned Mussa only started driving in Toronto days before the fatal collision, having just moved from Ottawa. They vowed to be in court to see justice done in the case of Nicholas Cameron, but hope the City of Toronto re-examines its regulations concerning ride sharing services.
“There should be a line of defence when someone wants to drive for a ride sharing company, they should have to go through a safety test,” Patrick said.
“But right now Uber’s safety test is the passengers and the star rating system and that’s completely unacceptable.”
He pointed to cities like New York, Seattle and Chicago where Uber and Lyft drivers need exta training.
“Why is the bar so low for Toronto?” Patrick said.