Just a few years ago, Uber and Lyft took the world by storm with their innovative driving service that millennials gravitated to without hesitation. Convenience, ease, and affordability allowed Uber Technologies Inc. to become a staple around the world. With rapid growth comes inevitable problems within a workforce.
A recent study from the Booth School at the University of Chicago shows that Uber and Lyft have increased traffic deaths by 2–3 percent, which equates to as many as 1,100 additional deaths each year since 2011. Uber and Lyft drivers increase congestion due to them spending 40–60 percent of their time circling the block in search of new passengers, commonly referred to as “deadheading.”
Uber and Lyft also have not been known to offer extensive training to their drivers and do not have the capacity for quality control to monitor safety precautions practiced by their drivers. In Atlanta, a school crossing guard was killed after being hit by an Uber driver at 51 miles per hour because the driver had fallen asleep. In 2017, Uber was dealt a $1.1 million fine for multiple cases of drunk driving among their workforce.
With all of these issues, it’s no surprise that Uber, Lyft, and other companies within the transportation industry are increasing their efforts to monitor performance and safe practices of their drivers. With increased speculation and a sense of urgency to increase safe driving, companies acknowledge the legal risks of performing background checks as well as the potential risks of not doing so.
Municipalities have been pushing for Uber to keep up with their drivers’ criminal records, citations, and even sexual misconduct charges, claiming to match the duty of care required of licensed livery services like limos and taxis. Uber plans to reveal and share its plan to regularly screen drivers with a rescreening technology they are investing in. At the same time, they continue to spend millions of dollars lobbying hundreds of cities councils across the nation to keep their drivers from being licensed and regulated like the other for-hire livery drivers. Their actions are sending mixed messages, but their marketing seems to stay true.
“Our new leadership has made safety a top priority at Uber, and we are committed to ensuring drivers continue to meet our safety standards on an ongoing basis,” said Uber representative Brooke Anderson.
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