“Who’s going to drive tonight?” Countless adults who were planning to let loose and enjoy a night on the town have asked this question. The answer used to be, “I don’t feel like drinking tonight, so I’ll take it this time and you get the next one.” Now, with the invention of ride-share services, the answer has changed and people no longer have to worry about a designated driver to ensure a safe ride home. But, what happens when that safe ride home is not as safe as you think?
Recently, a woman in McDonough, Georgia was in an Uber with her 2-year-old son. What was initially supposed to be a normal ride home turned into a traumatizing event for the family. According to the woman, the Uber driver picked her up from a restaurant, and during the ride, tried to grope her. When the woman pushed the driver away, he punched her in front of her son. The woman managed to get her and her son out of the Uber, and luckily, a nearby police officer heard her screams and was able to help her.
The police arrested the driver and Uber terminated him—he had been driving for Uber for 4 months. Uber says it is investigating this incident to ensure something like this does not happen again.
This is, however, not the first time an Uber driver has assaulted a passenger, and many say that Uber does not properly screen drivers before hiring them. Potential Uber drivers must provide their name, birth date, Social Security number, driver’s license, a documents related to insurance and their vehicle. Uber then runs a background check, using a company named Checkr. Candidates are disqualified if they have a history of DUIs, certain violent crimes and felonies, or are listed on any sex offender registries. Uber admits, though, that its process is not perfect. In fact, Uber’s own website warns that its background checks are not 100% accurate.
Uber’s questionable screening process is scary when more than 8 million people are using the service regularly, and it is a common transportation method in over 400 cities. The most frequent crimes committed involving Uber drivers and cars are assaults, sexual assaults, kidnappings, and of course, car accidents. In fact, a Uber driver in Kalamazzo, Michigan was just arrested for killing 6 people. Uber has admitted in that case that the driver had a prior criminal history but says Uber was unaware of it.
Ride sharing services are not going away anytime soon. So, it is important to protect yourself and be cautious when entering a vehicle with an unknown driver. Here are some tips:
- Always travel with a group, even if you are not traveling far
- Tell friends or family where you are being picked up from, where you will be dropped off, and when you should arrive at your destination
- Make sure the vehicle, including license plate, matches the vehicle that should be picking you up
- Verify the driver’s name and that the driver knows your name, without first providing that information
- Have a plan in place so that you check-in with a friend or family member when you arrive, and if you don’t, they will contact you at a certain time
- While ride-shares are great for preventing drinking and driving, getting into an unknown person’s car while intoxicated is not safe either—the sober you are, the safer you are
If you were injured because a company, like Uber, failed to hire safe employees and failed to train their employees properly, contact us so we can evaluate your case.