Is Uber Safe?
Sure, it feels easy to tap your thumb on your phone screen a few times and have a car appear in front of you within minutes, but too many of us have falsely started associating ease with safety. When you climb into a rideshare car, you’re putting your trust into that service’s parent company.
“They’re legit! They have an awesome app! Everyone uses Uber!” That’s often the extent of our litmus test for the safety of the digital services we use. But when that app jumps out of the internet and into our real-world lives, as it does when we summon an Uber, we can’t simply assume that the company has thoroughly vetted the criminal history, driving safety record, and drug use of the people they send to us.
If you’re counting on current legislature to help you out, you have a long wait ahead of you. In fact, rideshare providers do not have to abide by strict driver screening requirements. Only 43 states have any screening requirements in place — and most policies are far more lax than desired, allowing potentially dangerous or irresponsible individuals to slip through the cracks and into the driver’s seat.
Uber and Lyft Background Checks Fall Short
So, what are the current requirements for rideshare companies? From the start, the leading rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft, have set a subpar standard for their driver vetting background check process.
Lobbying by Uber, in particular, has resulted in 31 states simply adopting the company’s screening recommendations as law1. As a result, even when there is a state law mandating driver screening in place, that law is sadly lenient.
Most rideshare companies follow very basic background check procedures that only look for certain criminal records and driving violations. For the criminal background check, they take a snapshot of the past seven years, looking for violent crimes, sexual offenses, and felonies that occurred within that small window.
The standards for DOT background checks are similar. Rideshare companies only look for major moving violations and repeat minor offenses in a short period of time.
While some rideshare companies pledge to perform yearly checks into their drivers’ criminal status and driving records to keep up to date with their lives, this is rarely considered a legal imperative, allowing companies operating in more lenient regions to skirt this responsibility.
Along with their inconsistent screening procedures, rideshare providers also do not have consistent guidelines to follow for disqualifying prospective drivers. They claim to disqualify drivers who have any violations that put consumers at risk, but they do not provide an exhaustive list of the disqualifying factors.
The news features horror story after horror story, proving that rideshare companies are failing at their responsibility to provide a safe experience for their customers.
What You Can Do To Push for Safer Screening Procedures
It’s time to make your voice heard and urge your favorite rideshare app to start truly prioritizing consumer safety with regularly-administered and comprehensive background screenings, driving record assessments and drug tests.
Or, barring that — to put your dollars behind companies who do right by their consumers. Talk to your local car service company and find out what their screening procedures are. Often, because they employ a stable set of individuals in-house, they will have better vetting procedures than Uber.
If they don’t, here’s your chance to make them see the error of their ways. Explain that consumer safety is top-of-mind for riders like you, and that you want to support a business that thoroughly assures your comfort and well-being by effectively removing high-risk individuals from the driver pool.
Furthermore, assure them that checks into the National Criminal Registry, the Registered Sex Offender Registry, the Terrorism Registry and far-reaching checks into arrest records and driving records are essential but don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Even adding regular drug screening to the mix can be simple with the right screening partner by their side.
Using Background Checks to Improve Rideshare and Car Services
Take your safety seriously by only choosing cab and rideshare services that thoroughly screen their drivers and by urging your preferred providers to screen their employees regularly.
Major rideshare enterprises and local car services alike can easily integrate comprehensive background check procedures into daily operations by partnering with a qualified screening company, like Health Street. Health Street will handle every aspect of the screening process from verifying driver identity to administering regularly-scheduled drug screenings, and everything in between.
Put the onus on your ride provider to ensure your safety. Have them contact us at (888) 378-2499 to get started.