As of 2015, the state of Georgia requires Uber to provide its local drivers with $1 million in insurance, in case of on-the-job accidents. The ridesharing giant has since adopted this basic safety measure across the board, but it barely scratches the surface of the company’s safety issues.
Even the improved insurance has problematic loopholes. For example, a driver en route to pick up a passenger is theoretically covered, but if that upcoming ride is cancelled, as would generally happen following an accident, Uber’s coverage no longer applies.
More concerning yet is the inadequate driver screening process that allows for so many accidents and other problems to occur in the first place.
In April of 2018, an Uber driver on her way from Marietta to Atlanta suffered an unspecified medical episode and swerved into a pole, killing one passenger and severely injuring another. In spite of family members’ questions, no further information was ever released on what happened to the driver, or whether her episode could have been predicted.
Just a month later, an Uber driver in Charleston hit a parked car and started to drive away. The car’s owner chased after the Uber driver, who stopped, kicked his passengers out, and then fled the scene. The passengers were then assaulted by the car owner and his friends. Uber denied all responsibility.
Accidents Aren’t the Only Danger Uber Passengers Face
One of Uber’s main selling points is its image as a safe alternative to walking, driving, or accepting a ride from an untrusted acquaintance, especially for young women and anyone who’s been drinking. Yet it has failed to live up to this image time and again.
A 2018 investigation by CNN found over a hundred sexual assault accusations against Uber drivers over the previous four years. By contrast, the same study found only 18 such accusations against drivers for Uber’s primary competition, Lyft, in spite of Lyft’s own hiring controversies.
As with most statistics on sexual assault, the real numbers are likely much higher. Underreporting of sex crimes is common, and the police departments contacted by CNN provided records of many more complaints that were not included due to the absence of a full incident report.
Uber Routinely Opposes Safety Improvements
Uber uses tactics one legal expert describes as “lobbying on steroids” to write its own laws and avoid regulations, including fingerprinting requirements for its drivers.
Instead of taking the time to find quality drivers and fairly incentivize them, the company instead compensates for its high driver turnover rate by skipping fingerprinting and using background check services that allow near-instant hiring. It wasn’t until 2018 that annual background checks even became a company standard.
In addition to its own poorly screened drivers, Uber also makes it dangerously easy for anyone to print out an Uber logo for their car, allowing criminals falsely posing as Uber drivers to prey on unsuspecting passengers. When alerted to this problem, Uber rejected a proposed requirement for a lighted display on every car, and silenced survivors with forced arbitration.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a violent or negligent Uber driver or been involved in a car accident during an Uber ride, contact The Stoddard Firm to learn about your options.