Uber Cheaps Out On Driver Fingerprint Checks

Martin Romjue
Posted on March 29, 2016


If you want to see Uber’s upfront true intentions, look no further than the local regulatory battles playing out in cities, towns and airports across America.

I noticed two examples recently; one at the nation’s busiest airport in Atlanta, and the other in Springfield, Missouri, a small city representative of America’s heartland.

In Atlanta, Uber objects to fingerprint background checks airport officials want to require for drivers. Fox News report here. Uber claims its non-fingerprint checks are good enough, but the spate of media reports about criminal drivers getting through belies its position.

In Springfield, the City Council is considering an ordinance to allow TNCs to operate in the city alongside taxicabs. The solution should be straightforward; TNC and taxi drivers follow the same rules.

According to a Springfield News-Leader report last week:

Assistant City Manager Collin Quigley said his department is [talking] with Uber about how they can create potential ordinance language that might work.

The issue with the bill, Uber General Manager Sagar Shah said, is that it places too many burdens — like drug tests, health physicals and fingerprint background checks — on the individual driver, rather than the company. He said ideally, Uber should be required to ensure basic safety, insurance and consumer protections, but laws should not penalize drivers by having them pay fees and take time to complete several external procedures.

Quigley said these requirements are the same that taxi drivers have to meet in order to obtain a permit for operating in Springfield. . .

There you have it, again. Uber doesn’t want to obey the same reasonable rules as other forms of ground transportation. It prefers to handle background checks, instead of drivers, so it can avoid fingerprint checks and take the easiest route possible. It tries to whine, lobby, lie, cheat and scam its way into special status as a ridiculously self-labeled "technology company." That’s transparently unfair and un-American in my view. If Uber can't make it following taxi rules, it deserves to fail.

The good news here is that more local governing bodies are pushing reasonable solutions. Last month, I highlighted the common sense approach of the Rehoboth Beach (Del.) City Council.

Larger cities are taking the lead as well, with New York City fingerprinting drivers, and the mayor of Los Angeles this month asking state regulators to allow his city to do so as well. Houston, the nation's fourth-largest city, was among the first in the nation to require drivers for Uber and other ride-booking firms to undergo fingerprint-based background checks using the FBI's database.

While we can’t yet declare that the background check issue is shifting in the favor of safety and uniformity, we should be encouraged by the cities and towns bold enough to step forward and take a stand.

Now it just all has to go viral.

Related Topics: airport rules, airports, Atlanta operators, background checks, city regulations, criminal incidents, driver behavior, Editor's Edge Blog, LCT editor, Martin Romjue, Missouri operators, passenger safety, regulatory enforcement, taxis, TNCs, Uber

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 2 )
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  • Bill Devine

     | about 2 years ago

    Uber will continue to operate and ignore the rules. This is their M.O. in every situation like this. They praise innovation when regulators give them the green light and shun it when it doesn't go their way. What Uber is doing is nothing new or innovating. It just a new method of dispatch. Regulators shouldn't bend over every time a new one is created. Let’s face it, they use regular people using their own vehicles to transport the public around for money. Many are unaware they are committing insurance fraud and loan fraud. Uber drivers are getting into accidents on a daily basis and injuries occur during phase 1 when they have zero coverage leaving the driver holding the bag. Many will face civil lawsuits ruining their lives and the lives of the victims. Uber's business model is built on illegal activity on a global scale. Drivers are also not drug tested or finger printed, required to pass a physical nor have their cars properly inspected or carry a fire extinguisher. Would you want your child in a school bus that operated like Uber? So limos and taxis face all these hardships in order to operate yet Uber drivers are given special treatment. Make it the same across the board for all drivers and companies. Uber is not special because they have an app. Taxis and Limousine companies have apps now. Does that mean they can drop the regulations and run like Uber? An app does not make anyone above the law. Regulations are in place to save lives. What's the core function of the business? To provide on-call transportation to Individuals for a fee. Same core function. Same business. Should be same rules. Arguing that one set of drivers or vehicles is cleaner than another is pointless -- that's about service, it's not about allowing a cleaner vehicle and driver to be exempt from the rules applying to that business.

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