Uber Mass Murder Must Spur Overdue Action

Posted on February 23, 2016 by - Also by this author


As with any mass killing, now all too common in America’s unraveling culture, the horrific Feb. 20 shooting rampage from the Uber driver in Kalamazoo, Mich., brings troubling facts and triggers deep emotions. As difficult as it may be, separating the two helps point to the right preventative measures.

Factually, as of today and absent new evidence, it appears this could have happened in any occupation. There’s a reason we have the cliché, “going postal.” The big questions are: Would the highest-level fingerprint background check have screened out driver Jason Dalton? Would a face to face job interview have disqualified him? Would enforceable prohibitions on carrying firearms while commercial driving helped deter this calculated act?

We may never know for sure, but those are the three linchpin questions when trying to assess fault or blame in this single episode. We should leave the answers to the prosecutors, investigators, and criminal justice system.

What we do know is the driver worked for Uber X, not Uber Black. He had been background checked, although not at the most thorough level. He received mostly positive reviews from among the 100 passengers he had driven. He was not interviewed for his contract job. And nothing in his outward behavior or lifestyle drew immediate concern.

Unfortunately, there is no real test for latent insanity, hidden motives, covert mental illness, or irrational evil. Evil masks itself in the most deceptive and clever of ways. No demographic is exempt, not even middle-aged, married, employed, suburban home-owning fathers without criminal records – the demo that outwardly appears “safest.”

Nevertheless, this mass murder, whether technically the result of a faulty background check or lack of better one, or not, culminates what has become the Uber problem. Every form of bad behavior associated with ground transportation driving is owned by Uber, and particularly Uber X, in spades. I don’t even need to recite the onslaught of media reports over the last few years that support this. They’ve become part of the American cultural background.

Given gross deficiencies in Uber’s background checks and the nature of independent contract work, if this mass murder was going to happen in a transportation company, it would be Uber X. It’s easier to get a job out of prison with Uber X than it is to work at Wal-Mart, Starbucks or any number of minimum wage service sector jobs. That’s why felons, ex-cons, freaks, loons, weirdos, mentally ill people, and sexual predators who need a quick, easy buck naturally gravitate to Uber X: You have a better chance to beat or skate through the screening system. That doesn’t mean most Uber X drivers fit those categories; it’s just the system fails to screen out the tiny percentage that do. And as is the case with fanatical terrorism, it only takes a fraction of one-percent that "slips through" to wreak untold havoc.

So what’s next? While nothing is foolproof, the industry agenda to push with regulators and legislators should be straightforward:

  • Require Uber X and Lyft to abide by the standards of more reputable chauffeured app services such as Blacklane, iCars or Asteride. If Uber X and Lyft cannot follow those standards and survive, they deserve to go bankrupt and implode.
  • Anyone driving for any ground transportation service, whether employed or independent, needs to be interviewed in person, trained, licensed and subject to background checks — costs and wait timelines be damned. The industry should push for federal legislation that speeds up and makes D.O.J. fingerprint background checks more readily available. Uber X and Lyft are electronic hitchhiking. Our parents always warned us about its dangers, 20th Century style. Now we’ve witnessed the ultimate hazard of the 21st Century version.
  • Push for more employee-oriented business mandates that narrow the definitions of independent contracting. There are class-action lawsuits in the works to remedy the excesses of TNC-related independent contracting, but those possible victories must be complemented by pro-employee-model legislation. A ground transportation service that actually must employ its drivers and pay them decent wages will likely attract a better caliber of applicants and be motivated to do the most thorough vetting, checking and training possible. If you see your employees daily, you pick up on clues and troubles.

Lastly, the limousine industry in no way should take comfort or develop a sense of superiority because of the mass Uber murder. This is a ferocious wake-up call and final warning to companies that promote and advertise duty-of-care: Do you background check your chauffeurs and drivers? If any limousine services are not doing so, NOW is the time to start and clean up your act.

Imagine the consequences if this killer had worked for a legal, licensed limousine service that is a member of the National Limousine Association. Perish even the remote possibility.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (1 Comment)

More LCT Blog Blog Posts

September 13, 2017

Create A Handbook Your Employees Will Actually Read

Black and white words on a page are boring and uninspiring; here are some things to consider when creating a how-to guide for your company.

August 29, 2017

Billy The Coach: How To Plan And Prepare For Success

The LCT Summit keynoter starts contributing this week to our blog by asking: What is it you want bad enough to work for?

August 16, 2017

Don’t Let Poor Grammar, Spelling, And Punctuation Ruin Your Image

You are what you write. Make sure you leave a good business impression, especially on social media.

August 8, 2017

Behind The Screens: Why Face Time Matters

Computers and smartphones have conditioned us to text and email our way through life. Here’s how Millennials and managers can work together to break the habit.

July 31, 2017

Let's Not Make AI The New Y2K Scare

Machines will not take away all of our jobs any more than the Y2K scare ushered in Armageddon.

See More

Facebook Comments ()

Comments (1)

Post a Comment

Submit

Blog

See More

LCT Store

LCT Magazine - September 2017 $12.95 MOTORCOACH / BUS ISSUE COVER STORY: * Irizar Racks Up A Good Rookie Year * *



Connect

Experience the three annual industry events for networking for business, showcasing vehicles and products, and getting the tools for success.

Read About Your Region

What’s Happening Near You?
Click on any state to see the latest industry news and events in that region.

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Metro Magazine

Serving the bus and passenger rail industries for more than a century

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

Please sign in or register to .    Close