To the Editor:
In response to your article “How safe is Uber? It depends on your gender,” I find it disappointing that your writer would put forth such a one-sided position that maligns businesses without presenting, or even considering the whole picture, or facts. I am all for protecting the public, male or female. However, it seems that I have seen more stories of ride-share drivers being assaulted by their passengers, even being killed. Many people saw the widely spread video of the male driver being assaulted by a drunken rider. I gave a ride to a male passenger who shared with me that he used to drive for one of the companies. He had been robbed but he also acknowledged that he did not follow company recommendations and picked up the wrong persons. So while he was being assaulted the people he was supposed to pick up were calling asking where he was.
There are ZERO background checks for riders, and riders frequently are using a friend or relative’s account so the driver may not even know who that rider is. Furthermore, your article includes a story of a person posing as an Uber driver who is not. I’m sorry but there is no background check that can prevent that person’s actions. Your inclusion of that incident is akin to people thinking gun control will stop bad people from obtaining guns. In fact, current Uber and Lyft rules will protect any rider as long as they follow the instructions given by the ride-share company. Uber and Lyft drivers are not allowed by law, nor by company policy to pick up a rider hailing a ride not through the app. Riders using those apps have a picture of my car and of me available to them so if someone else were to try to pick them up they can easily tell that it is not me.
As a driver for either company, and I drive for both, I have gone through whatever background check they have. As a youth sports coach I have passed many background checks so that was not a concern for me. I also have to take my car for the companies to inspect. I have to present my identification and my auto insurance. I have to maintain my vehicle and insurance. In addition, riders have the opportunity to rate their drivers, as do the drivers of the riders. So when you request a ride through either Uber or Lyft, the rider not only sees my car and my photo, but they also see my rating. If I do not maintain a rating equal or above the majority of drivers in my area, the company will give me a warning about what I need to do to improve my performance. If the rating does not improve then I would be booted out of the system. I know of one driver who was released because he did poorly when following directions and didn’t use GPS.
I hope you will write further to include the whole story when it comes to these two companies. It is unfortunate that whenever someone has a good idea, there are those who want to ruin it. Can the companies have tougher background checks? I don’t know exactly what they are doing. I do know that when I originally signed up for UBER it took 10 days to clear me which gave me the impression that they were doing a complete check. But I do know that your safety is less dependent upon gender than it is on the people who are driving or riding in the car.