Integrated Security Services, Inc., New York

In Florida, Tempers Flare Over Uber’s Avoidance of Background Checks

03 Sep

A smartphone is used to locate an Uber taxi. Mark Warner/flickr

Uber is receiving bad press for its lack of safety regulations, and passengers are being advised to continue using the service at their own risk.

Assume that you’re safe in an Uber car? It’s time to second-guess that assumption. Uber, as well as several other prominent companies in the exploding sharing economy have recently, as reported by Journalists’ Resources, come under scrutiny for serious concerns with security and safety.

Though taking an Uber is, on average, 27% cheaper than a regular taxi service, according to the Palm Beach Post, those who trust its drivers might ultimately pay a greater price.

Uber vs. Taxis

According to the Sun Sentinel, all taxi drivers in Florida’s Palm Beach County are required to pass a background check, which includes a fingerprint inspection. And despite Uber’s alleged compliance in other parts of the country, Uber objects to the standard set in the Sunshine State, arguing that fingerprint inspection is “too cumbersome” and burdens its pricing strategy.

Taxi driver fingerprinting is a relatively recent phenomena to emerge in the area, and has only been legally required as of February 2015. Uber operates in West Palm Beach on a contract that expires this September, and has threatened to leave the county entirely if it is subjected to the same, heightened standards as other taxi services.

WPTV reports that this irreverence has been met with outright hostility. Earlier this year, drivers and pedestrians filled the Palm Beach County Commission Chamber to relay their message loud and clear: Uber must comply with the county ordinance or cease its operations entirely.

Not All Black and White

However, not everyone is so sure that traditional taxis are the more secure option of the two. According to Zendrive, ridesharing often results in safer outcomes for passengers than normal taxi services, especially with regard to speeding and cell phone use.

In defense of the ridesharing marketplace, the Washington Post reports that Uber will only employ ex-convicts as drivers a full seven years after a felony conviction, while most jurisdictions mandate a taxi driver wait only five years.

These charges can include DUIs, violent crimes, reckless driving, and sexual offenses, and we, for one, believe that if you’re going to let an ex-con back behind the wheel, they better have to wait as long as possible.

Better Safe than Sorry

On the other hand, passengers who ride with an Uber driver who has yet to be verified by fingerprinting or a valid background check leave themselves vulnerable to many of the same risks as hitchhikers.

Sure, the platform allows passengers and drivers to rate one another, but this means of accountability hasn’t prevented an ongoing spate of crime from unfolding — as reported by media outlets such as LA Weekly, the Chicago Tribune, and The Daily Beast, among others. Of course, your own driver is still unlikely to possess criminal intent, but are you willing to bet your life on it?

By turning to a investigative and security service like us, Uber could get the safety makeover it needs. With our wealth of resources and highly trained personnel, Integrated performs comprehensive and timely background checks, ensuring you that your driver is fit for the job.