Ride Sharing: Are Stricter Regulations Needed?
The latest trend in transportation is ride sharing, and a growing number of people are using their smart phones to order a ride. By downloading an app from companies such as Uber, Lyft or SideCar, users request a ride and then a driver arrives to pick them up. Drivers use their personal cars, and payment is cashless, since it is done directly through the app using a credit card linked to each account.
It is apparent by the rapid growth and expansion of these companies that users find the service valuable, but opponents say the companies are transportation disrupters. They cite concerns that include insurance issues, regular vehicle inspections, and driver background checks.
When asked if they perform background checks, the ride sharing companies say yes, they do screen their drivers. But some cities think those background checks are not thorough enough. According to recent articles in the LA Times and Deseret News, district attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles have threatened the companies with legal action. One of their allegations is that the companies need to do a better job of screening the drivers.
Cities in California aren’t the only ones to be concerned. Officials in Charlotte, North Carolina were considering a requirement that ride share drivers undergo city background checks, like cab drivers. But just recently, city officials have postponed this requirement, as they wait to find out if the state’s General Assembly will create a state standard for all vehicles for hire.
Right now, the ride share business model is in its infancy, and it remains to be seen how the companies will respond to city and state requirements for stricter background checks. But no matter what, passenger (and driver) safety should be a top concern. And making sure drivers pass a thorough background check is a step in the right direction.