Uber provides a convenient way for many people to get around, but it also presents some serious safety concerns. Over the past several years, a growing number of incidents have left some passengers wondering if they are safe when using the service.
The concerns stem in part from Uber’s process for hiring drivers, which does not include fingerprinting or conducting thorough background checks. Uber touts its commitment to the safety of its riders, but critics argue that the onboarding process for drivers is inadequate.
What are some of the primary safety concerns related to using Uber?
Uber drivers have been the focus of a number of highly publicized investigations for alleged sexual assaults in recent years. In one incident, a woman in India accused an Uber driver of rape. The New Delhi government responded by banning Uber, and the company itself stopped operating in the city.
Other cases include a 2014 incident in Chicago in which a passenger accused her Uber driver of sexual assault. In West Hollywood, an Uber driver was arrested for allegedly kidnapping a passenger who was under the influence of alcohol and taking her to a hotel with the intent of sexually assaulting her.
Shootings and Other Violence
In early 2016, an Uber driver was accused of killing six people and injuring two in a shooting spree in Michigan. The driver reportedly picked up and dropped off passengers between the killings, which took place over four hours.
One rider said he had called for an Uber vehicle to get him out of the neighborhood where a gunman was reported to be. He was picked up by the alleged shooter.
Another passenger of the alleged shooter noted that he had hailed the ride about an hour before the shootings started. Approximately a mile into his trip, the passenger reported, the driver received a phone call and then began driving erratically, including speeding and going over medians and through lawns.
When the car stopped, the passenger jumped out, ran and called the police. He also complained to Uber. The company later said it had received at least one complaint about the driver but did not give it high priority because it concerned unsafe driving rather than violence.
Another violent incident occurred in 2014, when a driver was charged with misdemeanor battery after he pulled over and told a passenger to exit the vehicle. When the passenger attempted to take a photo of the car, the driver allegedly punched the passenger and elbowed him in the chest.
It was later discovered that the driver had multiple felony convictions related to drugs and was on probation for another battery charge at the time that he served as an Uber driver.
In August, a former driver for Uber was convicted of driving drunk following a 2015 crash that killed another driver in Maryland.
The former Uber driver was speeding at a rate of about 84 miles per hour in a 40 miles-per-hour zone and had a blood-alcohol content of 0.10 percent. After crossing the double yellow lines, he hit the other car head-on. The driver was not on duty for Uber at the time of the crash.
In another incident, a Florida court found an Uber driver guilty of causing a crash that led to the death of his passenger. The driver ran a red light and crashed into the car of a Seminole County deputy.
Critics allege that the need to use a smartphone app to locate riders may contribute to reckless driving and accidents among Uber drivers. Using the apps requires that drivers interact with their screens quickly to bring in business, and many drivers also rely on GPS apps and devices in unfamiliar areas.
Unsafe actions by other motorists also can impact Uber drivers. For instance, an Uber driver was killed, and her passenger sustained critical injuries, in a recent hit-and-run wreck. The fatal accident occurred in January in South Los Angeles; the driver who allegedly caused the accident was taken into custody later the same day.
Addressing Safety Concerns
In 2015, Uber noted that it had created response teams to help investigate current safety issues as concerns increased among passengers. The company said it planned to initiate a safety advisory board that would include independent experts to analyze practices and provide guidance on safety features.
Uber also said it was increasing its criteria for background screenings of drivers and that it had implemented changes to its code of expected conduct.
What Is Uber’s Liability?
For passengers who have suffered injuries due to Uber’s list of safety issues, establishing liability is a critical step for receiving compensation. As incidents of violence and accidents continue to mount, the company may not be doing enough to protect its customers and drivers. If you’ve sustained an injury as an Uber passenger, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. For more information, please contact the legal team at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC.