Uber Drivers: Standard of Safety

The shooting in Kalamazoo, Michigan has Uber defending their safety procedures for hiring drivers.  The question is what is Uber’s standard of safety? The standard of safety for hiring differs depending on what country, state, province, or city you live in. There doesn’t seem to be a defined scope of procedures across all Uber operating regions.

Defining those safety standards for each region can be difficult, as Uber doesn’t seem to have any clear guidelines for their hiring procedures for every region. On their website they only discuss the safety requirements for the US, stating: “All drivers in the US provide their license and vehicle documentation before being able to drive with Uber. Drivers are also required to go through a pre-screening process that includes a review of their motor vehicle records and a search through criminal records at the county, state, and federal levels”.

In Virginia drivers undergo “rigorous background check process done by third-party, which checks federal, state and local records, the National Sex Offender registry and motor vehicle records”.

In Canada we see different sets of standards applied by Uber. Drivers are expected to complete a 26 point vehicle inspection 30 days prior to their employment and pass a police criminal record check that includes an RCMP vulnerable sector check. The vulnerable sector check is important as it identifies whether an applicant has been pardoned from a sexual offence and provides access to information from police departments across the country. Other details that must be shared by potential drivers are their registration, car insurance, and winter tire verification. It’s unclear if Uber is requiring their Canadian drivers to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Take a look at Uber’s Driver Jobs page. Licensing requirements and obtaining a CDL are discussed, but further down the page a CDL is not a listed requirement in the chart comparing  starting as an Uber driver and other driving careers available.

The alarming concern is Uber’s failure to follow their own safety procedures for hiring drivers. There have been cases in the US where Uber has hired felons or individuals with questionable driving abstracts.

In 2014, the City of Toronto hired an undercover investigator to look into the safety concerns presented by Uber. The investigator, Luigi Dilorenzo, went to the Toronto head office to apply for a driver job. He found that only a first-level Police Criminal Record Check and not a vulnerable sector check was completed. Another finding was Uber drivers did not seem to be covered by any liability insurance. Although it is stated by Uber that insurance coverage is provided, Dilorenzo was not provided with any documentation when he requested it.  In 2015, the Toronto Police conducted an undercover investigation that revealed that 26 applicants didn’t meet background check standards, it took less than two weeks to become employed, and both undercover officers didn’t have to undergo the vehicle inspection identified as a requirement by Uber.

Uber needs to remedy the concerns regarding the safety standards surrounding hiring procedures of drivers. To help protect the users of Uber and the brand of the company, it is important that Uber slows down the hiring process. This will help them do a thorough job and follow all of their policies and procedures regarding hiring. It is important that vulnerable sector checks be completed on drivers. Utilizing social media has proven to be a valuable asset to companies during the hiring process. Fortunately for companies, many individuals share entirely too much information and allows them to search for red flags specific to their industry. Vehicle inspections should be done prior to employment but also on an annual basis to ensure that the drivers are being held to the standard of safety.

Some people have reported on Glassdoor.ca that interviews have been conducted via phone or Skype before becoming a driver for the company. If this is the case, adding an additional in-person interview is recommended. Meeting potential candidates could allow for the interviewer to observe social and behavioural cues that might be considered red flags that wouldn’t be recognizable via phone or Skype. In addition to this, rather than relying on customers to provide the feedback on all drivers, Uber could implement a process similar to the “secret shoppers” programs of retail stores to ensure quality and to identify any potential concerns with respect to the driver’s vehicle, driving style, or behaviour.

 

Melissa Gibson

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