Using a rideshare service is now more convenient than hailing a taxi. Companies like Uber and Lyft allow users to reserve rides online, designate drop-off/pickup times, and choose their preferred vehicle type. However, neither app allows you to choose a driver.
Riding with an unsafe driver could lead to an accident. Does Uber or Lyft perform background checks on their drivers?
The Screening Process
Both Lyft and Uber screen their employees using background check services. Lyft uses a company called Sterling Solutions, while Uber uses Checkr. Every potential driver’s criminal and driving history is thoroughly reviewed. The background check will also determine if the driver is on the National Sex Offender Registry.
According to Uber, drivers can’t have more than three recent minor violations and absolutely no recent DUI charges. Lyft also performs a background check annually on all its contractors. However, it’s entirely up to the company who will become a driver, regardless of what the background check says.
Background Checks May Not Always Work
Even supposedly vetted drivers can be dangerous. In 2017, an Uzbekistan driver who passed Uber’s background check was charged for the murder of eight cyclists. Upon investigation, he was found to be a terrorist working with ISIS.
The man did not commit this crime while on the job. Still, Uber’s background check apparently didn’t find any evidence that this man was a terrorist. A study performed by CNN also found that over 100 drivers in the past four years had been accused of sexually assaulting their passengers.
Requirements May Vary
Another problem with background checks is inconsistent requirements. For example, New York City requires potential drivers to be fingerprinted, but many states do not. Many states also do not require government checks to be performed on drivers.
A federal background check can delve deeper into the driver’s history, as well as pull up information about the driver’s personal character. A government check is also more thorough and can find convictions that Checkr or Sterling Solutions may have missed.
How to Protect Yourself
Many Uber and Lyft drivers are cleared as professional and trustworthy. Still, it never hurts to be prepared. Here are a few ways you can keep yourself safe during your ride.
Check Your Car and Driver
When your driver arrives at the pickup location, verify the license plate with the one listed on your app. When you select your ride in the app, you’ll also be able to see the driver’s profile photo. Make sure that person is the one behind the wheel. If you’re unsure, ask the driver to identify you by name.
Avoid Riding Alone
An ill-intentioned driver likely won’t harm a group of people. Always try to ride with at least one other friend or family member. If this isn’t possible, install a trip sharing or tracking app on your phone.
Let the driver know that someone is expecting you at your destination. Call a family member in the car and let them know when you’ll arrive.
Choose the Right Seat
Never ride in the passenger seat next to your driver. If a driver is insistent on you sitting next to them, that could be a red flag. Uber recommends that all their passengers sit in the back seat of the car.
Try to avoid sitting directly behind the driver. From this seat, it’s hard to see what the driver is doing. Always sit where you have a clear view of both the driver and the road ahead.
Even the most careful planning can’t always prevent an accident. If you’ve suffered personal injury while using a rideshare service, our law firm is always here to help.