October 4th, 2016 | Sterling
California Enacts Tough Ride-Sharing Screening Laws
Do you feel safe while driving in a ride-sharing vehicle? I personally felt just as safe in a ride-sharing vehicle as I felt in riding a taxi. As more and more people are using ride-sharing services, more laws and regulations are enacted to protect passengers as well as drivers. Uber has recently enacted a law requiring drivers to take selfies to upload to the Uber app as an additional safety precaution for both the driver and rider. Background screening for ride-sharing applications has been evolving ever since the services have been launched a few years ago. Each state has different requirements and verifications for background screening for the drivers.
California has very tough laws for ride-sharing companies. In a new law just signed by Governor Jerry Brown, Uber and Lyft drivers will face stricter criminal background checks. The change, which goes into effect, January 1, 2017, will require ride-sharing companies to perform background checks going past 7 years and looking at the driver’s entire criminal history past starting with age 18. It will prohibit the ride-sharing services from hiring drivers who are registered sex offenders or who have a violent felony conviction at any time in the past. The law also restricts Uber and Lyft from hiring drivers with misdemeanors, such as domestic violence (or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the past 7 years). The ride-sharing companies have already been complying with the misdemeanor requirement.
With the signing of the bill, Uber and Lyft could be fined between $1,000 and $5,000 for each banned driver still on the road. According to the Wall Street Journal, the companies may need to rerun background checks on tens of thousands of drivers in California. However, executives at both Uber and Lyft support the new law. However, some California regulators and taxi commissions believe the new law is not as strict as those for the regulated taxi and limousine industries which require fingerprint screening.
Currently, ride-sharing services do not require fingerprinting screening of drivers before they start accepting drivers. At the moment, there is no universal fingerprinting standard for ride-hailing service drivers allowing each state to set their own screening rules. Because of this instability in fingerprinting requirements, a comprehensive name-based background check is a better alternative as it pulls criminal background information from a larger pool of sources, including local, state and federal criminal records.
Feeling safe and secure is the most important component to having a good ride-sharing experience. Increased security procedures, including the new selfie requirement and more inclusive criminal background checks, will help to give passengers peace of mind. As ride-sharing applications continue to grow in popularity, ride-sharing companies are increasing their responsibility to properly screen their drivers.
Each state (and sometimes city) will continue to debate about the amount and type of background checks they feel would better serve the ride-sharing industry. You can find out more information detailing the pros and cons of fingerprint and comprehensive background screening in our exclusive white paper.
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