Uber Safety: How Safe Are You

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Uber Safety: How Safe Are You

Uber is a worldwide transportation network that offers many services.

Uber is a worldwide transportation network that offers many services.

By Uber Technologies Inc. - https://www.uber.com/en-CA/newsroom/media-assets/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72697109

Uber is a worldwide transportation network that offers many services.

By Uber Technologies Inc. - https://www.uber.com/en-CA/newsroom/media-assets/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72697109

By Uber Technologies Inc. - https://www.uber.com/en-CA/newsroom/media-assets/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72697109

Uber is a worldwide transportation network that offers many services.

Javier Ortega III, Journalist

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Need a ride?  How about an Uber?  People who need a ride are now using their phones to request Uber rides, and foregoing traditional Taxi services.  Even though Uber has only been around for approximately 9 years, Uber has now become an extremely popular transportation option.  

This app-based company provides rides that cost less, and their services are indisputably easy to use. According to Uber’s web page, Uber works by having its users and drivers use its “on-demand transportation technology.” The service begins when the rider opens the Uber app. Once the rider enters his/her destination “a rider is matched with a driver.” The driver then picks up the rider and uses the Uber app’s “turn-by-turn directions” to take the rider to its desired destination.

According to the November 4, 2014, TIME article “Everything You Need to Know About Uber,” Uber became popular because of its “great app, excellent social media marketing, and aggressive courting of drivers.” It states that Uber’s “remarkable” background technology connects “riders and drivers with a smooth interface that rarely reports errors.” In fact,  a businessofapps.com article, stated “Uber Revenue and Usage Statistics” updated November 28, 2018, provides the following statistics:

  • 15 million Uber trips are completed each day
  • Well over 5 billion trips have been completed worldwide
  • Uber is available in 64 countries and over 600 cities worldwide

Uber’s “commitment to safety” pledge calls for US Uber drivers to “go through a multi-screening check for their driving and criminal history before they are authorized to take trips through the app.” It also adds that current drivers “continue to be vetted for criminal offences.” Even with such said screenings, riders can not be guaranteed a safe ride. Such was the incident that took place on the evening of February 20, 2016 involving 45-year old Uber driver Jason Dalton. On that day, Dalton went on a shooting spree that left 6 people dead and 2 wounded. All of this while he was picking up and dropping off passengers. According to the ktla.com article “Uber Driver Who Admitted to Killing 6 in Michigan Shooting Rampage Is Sentenced to Life in Prison” (February 5, 2019), after this shooting occurred “it heightened focus on Uber and its protocol for approving drivers, who are considered independent contractors and not employees.” This problem was further examined by a CNN investigation cited in the article “Thousands of criminals were cleared to be Uber drivers. Here’s how rideshare companies fought stronger checks” (June 1, 2018).  This investigation found that “Uber and Lyft have approved thousands of people who should have been disqualified because of criminal records.”  Either way, Jason Dalton had passed Uber’s background check and did not have a criminal record prior to this incident.

Jason Dalton’s story is not an isolated incident.  There have been other stories that point out the vulnerability of Uber riders’ safety.  After the Dalton’s incident, a woman sued Uber claiming that “Uber did not take sufficient measures to protect her from a driver who allegedly raped her on Nov. 11, 2016.” 

Per a November 11, 2017 cnbc.com article the complaint alleges that the Uber driver mentioned in the lawsuit “had been previously charged with committing violent crimes.”  However, even after learning about these incidents, 9th grader David Marquez Salazar did not seem to change his willingness to use Uber in the future.

“Well, of course that’s going to happen. It’s humans.  I doubt that I’ll ever end up in a situation like that, although, it’s possible.” Senior Michael Lewis takes Uber frequently and after hearing the Dalton story, he states, “That’s terrifying. I’m open minded, I don’t think that will happen to me. I don’t have a choice.”

Such unconcerned responses are not gender specific. Freshman Karina Tapia shared a similar response when asked about her willingness to take Uber rides in the future. “I don’t take Uber, but I probably would. As long as he/she is not kidnapping me” Karina said.  Although hearing this story “terrifies” her to take an Uber, she will be willing to do so as long as she is not riding alone. “I wouldn’t take an Uber ride by myself.”

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