Ride sharing apps, like Uber and Lyft, have been in the news a lot lately. A lot of the talk has surrounded the precarious legal position these types of apps have in various regions around the world. Cities, states and countries the world over have banned the app citing safety concerns and regulations skirting.
Unfortunately for these companies, the fears have been realized a few times over. Earlier this summer, a Washington DC ride became part of a "high speed chase" with a DC taxi inspector that ended up crossing state lines. Another rider, drunk and bar hopping in LA, was allegedly kidnapped, taken to a motel and asked to stay with the driver.
This week, another unfortunate incident has brought the topic of rider safety to the forefront, this time also in Los Angeles, and also with a drunk rider. The story, as reported, goes like this: female rider uses UberX to schedule a "taxi" ride to her home; a 20 minute trip. The driver then takes her 2 hours out of her way and into an empty parking lot, where he locked her in the car when she tried to get out. He then only took her to her destination after she began to scream in the locked car.
The driver, however, tells a different story of the event. According to the driver: drunk rider gets into car and requests an extended route home. At some point, the driver got concerned and called 911. Eva Behrend, from Uber, says,
Early reports on this ride are inaccurate. Based on the information we have at this time, this driver called 911 to ask for assistance with an intoxicated rider who requested an extended trip. However, we have refunded the rider's trip and reached out to the rider for additional information.
The most interesting thing about the refund was the comment attached to transaction: "inefficient route."
Obviously this all highlights the issues with an army of almost entirely unvetted drivers, the biggest of which being safety of the passengers. Taxi companies are responsible for the behavior of their drivers, but Uber and Lyft are completely unregulated, meaning they are not necessarily responsible for their drivers. The unregulated aspect seems to be part of the allure for some, though, so it is an interesting issue to solve.
Do you think more areas should focus on safety concerns or should Lyft and Uber be left alone? Let us know in the comments section.