Background Checks for Uber and Lyft Drivers in Massachusetts Now Strictest in U.S.




On November 28th, 2016, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts reached a deal with the state’s ride service companies, including Uber and Lyft, that will require all drivers to undergo our country’s strictest background checks to date for ride sharing services.

The new mandate requires that drivers:

  • pass state background checks
  • are not registered sex offenders
  • clear a search of their criminal records
  • complete all checks between Jan. 6th and April 3rd 2017

This announcement comes only months after both Lyft and Uber discontinued their services in Austin, Texas following the defeat of Proposition 1, which would have exempted their drivers from fingerprint background checks. Proponents of the proposition argued that the mandates, in pushing Uber and Lyft out of the city, would expose people to a greater risk of drunk driving. Additionally, they argued that the current screening process was sufficient as well as more thorough than those imposed on taxi drivers.

Interestingly, however, a spokesperson for Lyft in Massachusetts stated, “We were pleased to reach an agreement with the Baker Administration that maintains the high safety standards we have always observed while keeping modern transportation options like Lyft available across the state.”

The Risk of Ride Sharing

The need for more severe regulations on background checks and screening processes in the ride sharing sector has become increasingly apparent to legislative bodies like the Baker Administration in Massachusetts. There have been upwards of 70 reported instances of sexual assault by Uber and Lyft drivers in 2016 alone.

In a statement provided to CNBC, Governor Baker shared his hopes that the agreement “will set a national standard for the most comprehensive state background checks for TNC drivers in the country.” TNC stands for transportation network companies, Massachusetts’ label for services like Uber and Lyft.

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