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Published On: Wed, Jun 13th, 2018

Uber 2018: Safety First

Due to the general feeling that not all rideshare drivers are stable, added to the rather scary Uber films appearing on Netflix and other networks, as well as weekly reports of Uber drivers involved in scandals and criminal activities. Uber has decided to focus on safety and its image.

Honestly, as an Uber driver and customer, I find the continuous battering as a personal affront, since Uber is not a one-man show, such as it was presented. Travis Kalanick is not a driver, and all Uber drivers are not Travis Kalanick.

photo/ Gerd Altmann

CNN

All the recent fluster over personal safety comes after CNN released a report in May stating that over 103 Uber drivers were involved in sexual harassment and abuse situations within the last 4 years. Now, this is a large number, but when you put it into context and look at the 700,000 Uber drivers in the US, the percentage of issues arising, while unacceptable is still way below the national average, when compared to workplace sexual harassment issues.

This is why the media, instead of managing issues as they come, like to generalize, and one of the biggest generalities is around the Uber screening method. Based just on media reports, all Uber drivers are dangerous, since the screening process is bad.

Statistics

In 2017, there were 12,860 sexual harassment cases filed with the EEOC; this does not include the thousands of state and local cases. This is per annum, and the Uber issue is 25 per annum (statistical average).

Uber 911

A recent e-mail was sent out that is giving both drivers and passengers access to more security features via the app. These features include a fast 911 button for emergencies and a “trusted contacts” feature for sharing trip details in real time.

The use of these two features is for both the driver and the passenger, since what CNN did not publish is how many Uber drivers suffered violence or were sexually harassed. Since there are 340 million potential passengers in the US, versus 700,000 potential drivers, the equation is in favor of drivers being abused and harassed more than the passengers.

Uber Screening

What Uber did not do is address the screening issue, but then this is not an app feature thing, this is a state and federal issue. Screening is used to find out whether an applicant has a bad history of criminal activities. However, there are many types of histories, and they include the various level of criminal intent and activity that are not violent or dangerous to the passenger.  

On the other side of the scale are driving offenses, where a question has to be asked, is accumulating hundreds of parking tickets the same as driving drunk? Or is being charged with sexual harassment or grievous bodily harm the same as being charged for tax evasion? What makes a person dangerous for driving?

Employment screening is a growing issue, and while it is important to ascertain that the person you are employing is right for the job, screening should only really concentrate on criminal history and integrity. Where a candidate must be truthful on their CV, but at the same time, must be allowed to sell themselves as any marketing and PR professional understands.

State Issues

Some states do not rely on Uber’s screening, and they perform another level of screening before they approve the applicant. California, Colorado, Maryland, and Massachusetts are such states that have gone beyond Uber’s screening and disqualified thousands of applicants that passed Uber’s filters.

However, the question remains, what was the cause of their disapproval?

CEO

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO stated to the press that “When we fall short, we commit to being open, taking responsibility for the problem, and fixing it,”  which was made in May and is part of Khosrowshahi’s continued battle to change Uber’s image.

Arbitration

As of May 2018, Uber has stopped forcing sexual harassment cases from being forced in an arbitration process. Since sexual harassment is both a criminal offense as well as a personal trauma, it is natural that these cases be investigated by law enforcement agencies and dealt with by the state and not Uber.

CLO

Uber’s Chief Legal Officer, Tony West responded to all claims with a call to action and showed the media as well as state and federal officials that they are committed to safety in the workplace. This means immediately revoking access to any Uber driver found guilty of a crime of any sort. Retaining their information on file and sharing it with law enforcement agencies, and publishing safety reports on a frequent basis.

Personal Take

Essentially it is important to reduce sexual harassment and violent crimes against Zero. However, there are always a few instances which cannot be foreseen. When you employ hundreds of thousands of drivers, one or two individuals with mounting personal issues will lead to outbursts, when you compare Uber’s 103 cases in 4 years to the EEOC (only) 12,860 cases per year, the difference is obvious, where Uber’s workplace is a much safer environment than anywhere else.

Author’s Bio

Aman Bhangoo is the co-founder of Uber Drivers – Ridesharing Forum who helps rideshare drivers and riders to find answers to their most pressing questions. With over 4 years of experience, Aman brings a vast amount of knowledge, style, and skills to help fellow drivers. He has given over 18,000 rides with Uber and more than 6,800 rides with Lyft.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ridesharingforum

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ridesharing4rum

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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