FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Broward County had hoped to blaze a new trail, as only the second community in Florida to pass a law legalizing modern ride-hailing services such as Uber.
But the effort collapsed this week, when Uber announced it will pull out of Broward at month's end, frustrated by what it said were some of the most “onerous'' and "hostile” regulations in America.
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Rick Versace, president of the Florida Limousine Association, and owner of A1A Limouine in Boca Raton, Fla., released this statement about Uber’s planned exit from Broward County:
Broward County Commissioners bent over backwards to accommodate Uber, they went so far as to craft a special ordinance for them with almost none of the restrictions that taxi and limo companies have to follow. The only two items the Commissioners insisted they follow were: adhere to state law regarding insurance, and do a fingerprint background check on drivers to protect the riding public just like they do with taxi and limo drivers.
These basic public safety measures are what could have saved Sofia Liu’s life. Syed Muzzafar was convicted of reckless driving in the Florida Keys in 2004. Nine years later, he was driving for Uber in San Francisco on New Year's Eve 2013 — when he fatally struck 6-year-old Sofia Liu while she crossed a street with her mother and brother.
A newly released study conducted by The City University of New York highlights Liu’s death, among others, and calls for requiring Uber and other mobile ride-hail companies to perform more comprehensive criminal background checks in order to catch the entire criminal history of potential drivers.
The study, entitled “One Standard for All,” details how private background checks can allow those with old criminal histories to drive for companies like Uber and Lyft. The study explains that criminal background checks performed by ride-hail companies rely on names and social security numbers, while taxis use the more comprehensive fingerprint method. Private criminal checks only go back seven years and are also limited in which state and county jurisdictions they search.
The FBI said its biometric fingerprint checks have a 1% error rate, whereas name-based criminal background checks have a 43% error rate.
The Level Two criminal background check required by Broward County searches the federal criminal database as well as criminal databases in every state and every jurisdiction and goes back indefinitely. The level two background check is only available to municipal agencies. In order to run criminal background checks beyond seven years, and tap all available resources, Uber would need to have its drivers registered and background checked by Broward County just like all the taxi and limousine drivers do now. This is a fairly easy and inexpensive thing to do. In fact many of the Uber drivers who testified before the Broward County Commissioners were former taxi drivers and proudly showed their credentials to the Commissioners.
— Rick Versace, President FLA