Ridesharing companies have come under fire in recent years for their lack of safety. Just lack month, an Uber driver was arrested by Boston police and charged with indecent assault and battery against a passenger. In June 2014, a driver working for UBERx, (a budget-friendly version of Uber) was also arrested for assaulting a passenger, despite having passed a background check.
If passed, Assembly Bill 24 would require ridesharing companies to conduct to undergo a fingerprint-based background check through the California Department of Justice. Background checks play a key role in the overall safety of ridesharing companies, but it’s still somewhat of a gray area that needs clarification. Proponents of the bill say these changes will strengthen the ridesharing industry by making it safer for passengers to use. Critics, however, say Assembly Bill 24 brings nothing new to the table.
Assembly Bill 24 would also make drug tests mandatory in the event of an accident, or if the driver was under suspicion of using drugs. Furthermore, it would notify ridesharing companies when a driver is arrested for DUI or a “serious conviction.”
Assembly Bill 24 is strikingly similar to Assembly Bill 612, which failed the committee last year. The only notable difference is that 24 contains an extra requirement regarding the way in which ridesharing vehicles are marked.
The Internet Association, which represents the leading ridesharing companies, responded by saying it has not yet reviewed Assembly Bill 24. It added, however, that Uber, Lyft and Sidecar implement numerous measures to ensure the safety of its passengers. These measures include vehicle tracking systems, ratings systems, hands-on training, and background screenings. According to the Uber’s official website, it uses a three-step criminal background screening process for drivers in the U.S., cross-referencing the driver’s background with country, federal, and multi-state records.
“Existing regulations of the commission require, among other things, a transportation network company to (1) obtain an operating permit from the commission, (2) conduct a criminal background check of each driver, (3) establish a driver training program, (4) adopt a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol, (5) maintain specified insurance coverage on the company’s employees, and (6) conduct a 19-point motor vehicle inspection of the vehicles operated by drivers under contract with the company.”
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