Who’s in the Driver’s Seat? When Ride-Share Services Walk the Line Between Convenience and Safety

As technology evolves to accommodate the increasing demand for convenience and speed,Unknown.jpg naturally, the transportation industry is beginning to do the same. Taxicabs used to be the standard mode of transportation for a quick ride from the airport or during an evening out; but that was before the front-runner of ridesharing applications, Uber, took the market by storm.   But how safe is it?

Uber is an international ridesharing application that allows anyone to turn their personal car into a kind of Uber-cab for compensation based on the number of rides they complete. The convenience of the application is unmatched. Accessible via smartphone, tablet, or computer, the “tap a button-get a ride” concept of the application promises service within minutes from volunteer Uber drivers within the area. Payment for transportation is only accepted electronically, so conveniently, no cash exchanges hands between the passenger and driver. Since 2014, Uber’s popularity has spiked drastically, from claiming 15 percent of rides to over 46 percent in 2015. During that same timespan, the percentage of rides in taxicabs decreased from 85 percent to 53 percent.

But is it safe? Perhaps the only pitfall of the business model is the fact that anyone with a car can apply to become a driver.

In its security pre-screening description, Uber states that:

People wanting to sign up as a driver-partner with Uber are required to provide detailed information, including their full name, date of birth, Social Security number, a copy of their driver’s license, vehicle registration, insurance, and proof of a completed vehicle inspection.  With the potential driver-partner’s approval, Checkr then looks into his or her background.  They run a Social Security trace to identify addresses associated with the potential driver-partner’s name during the past seven years, and then searches for his or her name and addresses in a series of national, state and local databases for convictions in the last seven years.  

However, websites such as Who’s Driving You, an initiative of the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA) strive to make riders aware of the safety risks associated with various ride-share applications by documenting all reported incidents as they are released.  Though Uber ensures its riders that they are safe, Who’s Driving You has read the fine print:

Uber’s process for onboarding drivers is dangerously negligent [and does not use] fingerprints or law enforcement to background-check their drivers. And Uber doesn’t even bother to meet with drivers in person before allowing them to ferry passengers. The result is a series of incidents involving “ridesharing” passengers being harmed and criminal offenders behind the wheel.

For a detailed description of Uber’s security protocols and background check information, please visit the following link: https://newsroom.uber.com/details-on-safety/?_ga=1.128245839.218040452.1458235597

For a list of crime-related incidents and other findings against Uber’s ridesharing service, visit the TLPA website at: http://www.whosdrivingyou.org/rideshare-incidents

Interested in the battle between Uber and taxicabs? Check out the following article Uber’s Astounding Rise: Overtaking Taxis in Key Markets

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