Many states are currently fighting to require more stringent background checks of ride-sharing drivers, while Uber, the grand daddy of them all, is fighting it. A recent event, however, is not helping their cause.
Uber is now being faced with responding to allegations of incident assault against one of it’s drivers in Pennsylvania.
Collin Deppen of PennLive.com writes that “According to police, an Uber driver, 46-year-old Jehad Abdula Makhoul of Pittsburgh, stopped his car mid-ride and made unwanted sexual advances on the female passenger who was seated next to him in front of the vehicle.” The victim was able to push Makhoul off of her, after which he drove her to her destination. She immediately called police and informed them of what had occurred. She was unharmed, but Makhoul is now facing charges of summary harassment and incident assault.
This event is highlighting the ongoing question of safety when it comes to ride sharing services such as Lyft and Uber. There are ongoing efforts, most notably Maryland as of late, to institute more intensive background checks.
In Maryland, Uber is threatening to pull out of the state altogether as the state looks to require fingerprint-based background checks. Supporters of the measure say that Uber and Lyft don’t do a good enough job of screening their drivers. CNN reported on a story back in 2015 of sex offenders and a convicted murderer acquiring jobs at Lyft and Uber. An article in the LA Times in August 2015 reported that Uber approved 25 drivers with criminal records who provided thousands of rides to customers in LA and San Francisco.
According to Uber, their background checks are thorough enough, and include motor vehicle records, as well as county, federal, and multi-state checks going back 7 years. Critics, however, say they need to go farther. Taxi drivers, on the contrary, must undergo extensive fingerprint checks that are supposed to include a person’s complete criminal history in the United States, although there are loopholes in these extensive checks as well.
The debate will likely continue into the foreseeable future on whether or not the background checks of ride-sharing companies are “good enough”.