Sunday, May 22, 2016

Has Your Driver Passed a Background Check? What the Controversy Surrounding Uber & Lyft Means to You!

Created by Kimberly Kline

The days of having to rely on traditional public transportation have passed.  Now, by simply using an easily installed app on your smartphone, you are able to not only order a ride, but you can track exactly when it will reach you, and pay for the services rendered.

What could be more simple or convenient?

And, according to the numbers cited by the two top ride-sharing companies, Uber and Lyft, business is good.  Uber boasts a presence in 45 countries around the world.  While Lyft stays state side, both show growing revenues and riders.  *Source1

With this success, other companies are sure to continue to get in the game.

However, it has not all been smooth sailing.  Currently, both Uber and Lyft are under fire.

A growing number of cities are questioning the safety of both services ~ specifically the background checks done on their drivers.  Concerns over the quality and completeness of the screening has caused some cities to regulate how ride-sharing companies do business there.  Some cities have even gone as far as banning them completely.

These cities base their concern over the different regulations governing the screening of ride sharing and traditional drivers, such as taxi drivers.  While taxi drivers are subject to print based background checks, ride-sharing companies have made their own choices on how to screen their drivers.

And because these ride-sharing companies are relatively new, and government moves often painstakingly slow, there is no precedent for dealing with this issue.

In some cases, Uber and Lyft have each either threatened to leave or have already left cities where officials choose to pass laws dictating how they run their background checks. 

On top of this, ride-sharing companies have also had to deal with problems concerning drivers accused of criminal behavior.  These have included instances of alleged sexual assault, molestation, and rape.

Certainly not the public image any company wants.

Despite this, companies like Uber and Lyft are doing many things right.  The mere fact that they are taking the time to screen their drivers shows at least some level of commitment to customer and driver safety.

Each company has also put other procedures in place to keep their customers safe.

Created by Kimberly Kline

Uber, for instance, makes sure that when you use their app, you are given thorough identifying information on the driver sent.  That includes their name, a photo, their rating, and the license plate number of their vehicle.  This way you are fully informed about who is picking you up. 

They also promise a 24 hour support team who will handle any urgent problems or concerns about your ride.

Both Uber and Lyft also employ active rating services that allow riders and drivers to rate each other.  These ratings are part of both the driver’s and rider’s profile.  Anyone, driver or rider, having too many negative comments is no longer part of the service.

But the most important safety measure for any ride-sharing service comes back to their driver screening policies.  This is certainly the subject most hotly contested.

Uber’s background checks vary according to locale.  But no matter where the driver is operating, all undergo a background check.

Uber cites that most of their screenings go back at least 7 years. Drivers are required to provide complete identifying information ~ name, date of birth, social security number, and driver’s license number.  They also must show a valid vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and inspection.

The driver’s criminal history check obtains information from applicable national, state, and local sources.  Any records found are then verified directly through the courts.  

Lyft employs many of the same procedures, including the 7 year timeframe and criminal databases used.  They also cite a Zero Tolerance Drug Use Policy and provide rider insurance.

Despite these screening practices, ride-sharing services continue to be criticized.

At the heart of this controversy is the belief that fingerprint based background checks, as required for registered taxi drivers, should also be required of ride-sharing company drivers. And many law makers agree. 

The reality, however, is that no matter what type of background check you use, there can be issues

When running a fingerprint based check, most prints are obtained through digital scanning and then submitted to the FBI and state agencies to find any possible matches.

But fingerprint based background checks are not infallible. There are problems within the federal, state, and even the systems themselves.

Fingerprint System Limitations
Not all arrests made include the taking of fingerprints.  Therefore, any records where prints were not taken will not show up in that type of background check report. 

FBI Record Limitations 
The FBI database is not a complete and accurate source.  Not all cases contained in the database have a disposition listed.  This results in the possibility that some negative records found within the FBI system are based on arrests, not convictions.  In addition, some criminal records are held at state level only and will not be found during an FBI search. 

State Record Limitations
State Records are not always up to date.  Frequently case information is not passed on in a timely manner from the lower courts.  This results in inaccurate and incomplete records.

Created by Kimberly Kline

You can find out more about the problems of relying solely on state criminal records in; “Be Smart ~ Why You Need to Do More than Just a State Criminal Check”!

And discover why basing a hiring decision on arrests and not convictions is unfair and unreliable in; “Why Checking an Applicant’s Criminal Past Should be about Convictions, Not Arrests!”.

No matter what kind of background check ultimately used, companies, both ride-sharing and traditional taxi and car services, need to recognize that their riders’ safety must be at the top of their list.

Rider Safety Must Top the List for Taxis and Ride-Sharing Companies “Tweet This”

These companies also need to recognize that riders have a right to be concerned.

Riders deserve to feel safe.  Companies need to dedicate themselves to alleviating their customers fears and concerns.

A great place to start is by regulating their own drivers and responding quickly to any customer concerns.

But, most importantly, they should commit to periodically re-screening their drivers.  Ongoing background checks keep a company informed of any new or previously undecided criminal records involving their drivers.

Re-screening is used in other transportation industries, trucking and moving services for example, and would be a valuable tool for ride-sharing companies also. 

“Conducting periodic criminal checks on your existing employees is just as important as the initial background check in protecting the safety of your other employees, your customers, and your company.”.

Excerpt from my article; “Why You Need to Re-screen Your Employees!”.

As consumers, it is also important that we take responsibility and be vigilant about our own safety.  Doing things like informing friends or family you are using a ride-sharing service. Messaging them with the driver’s name, where you are heading, and when you get there.  You can even take a picture of the license plate and send it along with your message.

Anything we can do to increase our own safety makes sense.

Lessons Learned

Every company, including those like Uber and Lyft, need to be aware that their image is everything.  Going the extra mile to ensure that their customers are safe should be part of that image.

Making re-screening a vital part of their safety measures simply makes sense.

Doing what they can now to show their commitment to go above what is required is good for their company.  

Their ongoing success depends on it!

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Source1: How Uber and Lyft Stack Up in the United States

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