The rate of people in cities and suburbs getting around town by the use of apps such as Uber and Lyft instead of regular taxis has risen in the past year. The success of these services can be easily attributed to the availability of drivers, comfort of riders, simple app design, and safety. Out of all of those alleged benefits, safety is the one that comes into question in the minds of those using the apps recently. In the past year there have been 12 passenger and pedestrian deaths and hundreds of physical and sexual assaults directly connected to Uber and Lyft drivers. So, are these services really safer than regular taxis?
While Uber and Lyft claim to screen their drivers to insure the safety of their riders, Uber has been called out for incomplete and dishonest background checks. Various sources have also found drivers who have lengthy criminal histories including assault and DUI’s. Dave Sutton, the spokesperson and director for Who’s Driving You, a group representing taxi and limo companies says that for a woman “climbing into an Uber vehicle can be a terrible choice”(WhosDrivingYou). As Uber drivers are predominantly male, it is more likely that a woman is sexually assaulted during an Uber ride than men.
Riders may not even realize that in the Uber apps terms and conditions, Uber indemnifies or protects itself from liability for any and all incidents involving its hired cars and drivers. Technically, they cannot be held responsible for anything that happened in the car while they are in use. In most cities, taxi owners and operators are held accountable for charges and incidents that are held against them, unlike Uber. In the company’s terms and conditions agreement it is stated that “Uber does not guarantee the quality, suitability, safety, or ability of third-party providers. You agree that the entire risk arising out of your use of the services … remains solely with you, to the maximum extent permitted under applicable law”(Uber). It is commonly know that many people do not actually read all of the listed terms and conditions for signing up, this way they can easily hide this unsettling clause.
A specific story follows as this, a young girl was crossing the street with her mother in San Francisco and was killed by a driver who told police that he was working for Uber. The company released a statement saying he was not working for Uber. After, the driving service then released another statement clarifying that he was logged on to the Uber app but not doing business for Uber at the time, meaning he was on the way to pick up a customer. Therefore, Uber cannot be held responsible for the death of a young girl (Reed).
Overall, as apps such as Uber and Lyft become increasingly popular, it is important to know what you and what the companies are responsible and accountable for. Your safety and well being may be in danger if you unknowingly climb into one of these situations.
Reed, Megan. “Safety Officials Recommend 4 Tips for Using Uber.” USA TODAY College. Berry College, 2015. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.
UBER. “Terms & Conditions Agreement.” Uber. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.
“Comprehensive List of Uber Incidents and Assaults | Who’s Driving You?” Who’s Driving You. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.