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Is Uber Safer than Taxis?

By Matt Lalande in Car Accidents on February 20, 2024

Is Uber Safer than Taxis?

Is Uber Safer than Taxis?

In the quest for a reliable ride, safety stands paramount. Yet, the debate between the traditional taxi service and the modern rideshare platforms like Uber persists. Which one offers a safer journey? Are taxis safer than Uber or other rideshare apps?

When deciding between a taxi and Uber, it’s crucial to consider various safety factors that could significantly affect your experience with either option. Should you suffer injuries from an incident involving any of these transportation methods, consulting with a legal professional promptly is vital. Our Hamilton Personal Injury Lawyers specialize in handling all forms of personal injury cases, regardless of your location throughout Ontario. Since 2003, our law firm has successfully recovered millions in compensation for clients nationwide, demonstrating our commitment to achieving justice for individuals like yourself.

Evaluating Background Checks for Taxis and Rideshare Companies

Before deciding between a taxi or a rideshare for your next trip, it’s essential to grasp the background check processes these services employ.

Uber and Lyft partner with Checkr for their background screenings, encompassing detailed Motor Vehicle Reports (MVR) and criminal history checks, excluding credit assessments. Checkr is a background check service that uses advanced technology to provide fast and accurate screenings, widely used by businesses including gig economy companies. In Canada, Checkr supports companies like Uber and Lyft by conducting thorough criminal record and motor vehicle records checks, ensuring compliance with Canadian regulations. Its platform is designed to integrate seamlessly with a company’s HR systems, facilitating a smooth onboarding process for new hires while prioritizing fairness and legal compliance.

What Disqualifies an Applicant for Driving for Uber? 

An Uber driver applicant can be immediately disqualified for several reasons, primarily related to safety and legal compliance. While specific disqualification criteria may vary by region due to local laws and regulations, common reasons for immediate disqualification include:

Criminal Record: A conviction for serious crimes, especially those involving violence, sexual offenses, theft, or fraud, can lead to immediate disqualification.

Driving History: A history of major driving violations, such as DUI/DWI (driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated), reckless driving, or having a significant number of moving violations within a certain timeframe.

Invalid License: Not possessing a valid driver’s license, or having a license that has been suspended or revoked.

Vehicle Requirements: Owning a vehicle that does not meet Uber’s safety standards or model year requirements.

Lack of Insurance: Failing to have the appropriate type or level of auto insurance required by Uber and local regulations.

Conversely, taxi drivers undergo rigorous background checks and adhere to stricter employment criteria than their rideshare counterparts. This process includes an in-person interview and a comprehensive background check, scrutinizing the applicant’s criminal record over the past seven years. Any felony convictions within this timeframe result in automatic disqualification.

Despite these precautions, passengers should remain vigilant and conduct their own safety assessments when using these services, including reviewing driver ratings and trusting their instincts during the ride.

The Advantages of Opting for Taxis

Choosing a taxi over a rideshare service can offer several benefits, particularly in terms of safety and reliability.

Monitoring and Maintenance: Taxi companies typically employ full-time drivers, subject to ongoing supervision. Equipped with security cameras and communication devices, these companies monitor road conditions and driver conduct closely. Additionally, taxis undergo regular maintenance checks, ensuring vehicle safety and reducing the risk of accidents.

Safety Protocols: Taxi services have established safety protocols, including rigorous driver vetting and complaint investigation procedures, providing passengers with a clear recourse in case of any issues.

Challenges with Taxi Services: However, there are drawbacks to consider. The absence of real-time GPS tracking in taxis may concern some passengers, especially when traveling alone. Uncertain pickup times and the lack of driver profiles and passenger reviews can also detract from the taxi experience.

The Advantages of Opting for Uber

Choosing Uber over a traditional taxi can offer several advantages, depending on the preferences and priorities of the rider. Some of the main reasons include:

Convenience: Uber’s app allows users to book a ride with just a few taps on their smartphone, eliminating the need to hail a taxi on the street or call a taxi dispatch center.

Transparency: Before even getting into the car, Uber provides information about the driver, including their name, photo, vehicle type, and license plate number. The fare is calculated and shown upfront, and the route is tracked via GPS for added transparency and security.

Cashless Transactions: Payments are made automatically through the app using a pre-registered credit card, debit card, or other digital payment methods. This cashless transaction system reduces the need to carry cash and simplifies the payment process.

Rating System: Uber features a two-way rating system that allows passengers to rate their drivers and vice versa. This system encourages a higher standard of service, as drivers aim to maintain good ratings to continue driving with Uber.

Availability: In many areas, especially urban centers, Uber can offer more immediate pickups compared to traditional taxis, which may have longer wait times, especially during peak hours or in less densely populated areas.

Vehicle Options: Uber offers a variety of vehicle options to suit different needs, including economy rides, premium rides, and larger vehicles for groups or extra luggage. This flexibility allows users to choose a ride that best matches their requirements and budget.

Safety Features: The Uber app includes several safety features, such as the ability to share your trip details with friends or family, emergency assistance buttons, and GPS tracking of your ride from start to finish.

Enhanced Safety Features and Vehicle Standards: Uber and other ride-sharing platforms require drivers to use newer, well-maintained vehicles, ensuring a comfortable and secure ride. The convenience of app-based payments further simplifies the process, eliminating the need for cash transactions.

Technology: Technology plays a crucial role in enhancing the overall safety of Uber and other rideshare programs, serving as the backbone of their safety frameworks.:

Why Technology Seems to Make Uber the Safer Bet

Uber has implemented a range of technologies within its app to ensure the safety of both drivers and passengers. These technologies are designed to provide security, trust, and peace of mind throughout the ride-sharing experience:

  1. Real-Time GPS Tracking: Every trip with Uber is tracked from start to finish, allowing riders to share their trip status and location in real time with friends or family.
  2.  Driver Screening: Uber conducts background checks on drivers before allowing them to accept rides, which includes checking their driving history and criminal record.
  3.  RideCheck Feature: This feature uses GPS data and other sensors in the driver’s smartphone to detect if a trip has an unexpected long stop or a possible crash has occurred. If such events are detected, Uber can reach out to both the driver and the passenger to offer help.
  4.  In-App Emergency Button: Both drivers and passengers have access to an emergency button within the app that connects them directly to emergency services and shares their real-time location with them.
  5.  Two-Way Rating System: After every trip, drivers and riders can rate each other. This system promotes respect and accountability, and Uber can investigate low ratings to address any issues.
  6.  Anonymized Contact Information: When a driver and rider need to contact each other, Uber anonymizes their phone numbers to protect their privacy.
  7.  Safety Center: Within the app, there’s a dedicated space where riders and drivers can find safety tips, community guidelines, and information on the safety features available to them.
  8.  Driver Hours Limits: To help prevent drowsy driving, Uber sets limits on how long drivers can be logged in to the app and accept trips without taking a break.
  9.  Speed Alerts: Drivers receive in-app notifications if they exceed a certain speed, encouraging safe driving behavior.
  10.  Voice-activated Commands: Drivers can use voice commands to accept trips and communicate with riders, minimizing distractions while driving.
  11.  Advanced Facial Recognition Technology: Uber uses this technology for periodic driver verifications, ensuring that the driver using the app matches the account on file.
  12.  Safety Checkups: Periodic reminders for drivers to consider safety tools and verify information to ensure their account security and integrity.

These technologies and policies are part of Uber’s commitment to safety, aiming to address potential risks and enhance the ride-sharing experience for everyone involved.

What are Some Concerns with Ridesharing Programs?

Ridesharing programs like Uber and Lyft have transformed urban transportation, offering convenience and flexibility. However, they also come with safety concerns that passengers should be aware of:

Driver Screening: While Uber and Lyft conduct background checks, the thoroughness and criteria can vary by region. There’s concern that some drivers with criminal backgrounds or poor driving records may slip through the cracks – it has happened.

Vehicle Safety: Remember- an Uber applicant must demonstrate that he or she will be driving a car or truck that satisfies Uber policies and standards – but unlike traditional taxis, which often undergo regular inspections by the company or regulatory bodies, rideshare vehicles are the personal cars of drivers. This can lead to inconsistencies in vehicle maintenance and safety standards.

Insurance and Liability: There can be complexities and gaps in insurance coverage for rideshare drivers and passengers. In Ontario, drivers must inform their auto insurance carrier if they use their vehicle for Uber or any commercial activities, as standard policies don’t cover commercial use risks. Ontario offers specific rideshare insurance policies that bridge the gap between personal insurance and the coverage provided by rideshare companies, covering drivers from when they activate the rideshare app until passengers exit the vehicle. Not disclosing this use to your insurer can lead to claim denial or policy cancellation for misrepresentation, highlighting the importance of ensuring full compliance with Ontario’s insurance regulations for rideshare activities.

Sexual and Physical Assault: There have been reports of assaults, robberies, and other crimes against passengers. The nature of ridesharing — getting into a car with a stranger — naturally carries risks, despite the safety features and policies implemented by these companies. For example, in 2017, an Uber driver named Michael Squadrito in Boston, Massachusetts, was accused of raping a passenger who had fallen asleep in his car during an early morning ride. This incident underscored significant safety concerns with rideshare services, leading to public scrutiny of Uber’s driver vetting and safety measures. Squadrito’s arrest and subsequent charge of rape spotlighted the urgent need for rideshare companies to implement more rigorous background checks and enhance their protocols to safeguard passengers, emphasizing the critical responsibility these companies have in ensuring passenger security.

The issue of assaults by drivers, whether in taxis or rideshares, is a critical concern. In response, Canadian authorities and companies have implemented several measures to protect passengers. These include:

  • Enhanced Background Checks: Beyond criminal record checks, some jurisdictions require vulnerable sector checks for drivers, especially those who may transport unaccompanied minors or vulnerable adults.
  •  Education and Training: Drivers undergo training on passenger safety, conflict resolution, and how to handle emergencies.
  •  Reporting and Response Protocols: Both taxi companies and rideshare platforms have established clear protocols for reporting and responding to incidents, ensuring swift action is taken against drivers who violate safety policies.

Data Privacy: Using ridesharing apps requires sharing personal information, including payment details and location data. There’s a risk of data breaches and privacy concerns, as with any digital platform.

Impersonation and Fraud: There have been instances of individuals impersonating rideshare drivers to exploit passengers. This risk is particularly high in crowded areas where it’s easier for imposters to blend in. However, advanced modification of the app itself has made available the photo of the driver, the car, and the license plate, which would make impersonation quite difficult in 2024.

The good news is that Uber, Lyft, and similar companies continuously work to address these concerns by updating their safety protocols, improving driver screening processes, and enhancing app features. Nonetheless, passengers should remain vigilant, use the safety features provided by the apps, and follow best practices to ensure their safety while using ridesharing services.

Regulatory Oversight and Its Impact on Safety

In Canada, the regulatory framework governing taxis and rideshares varies by province and city, influencing the safety and operation of these services.

In cities like Toronto and Vancouver, the regulatory framework for taxi and Uber drivers is designed to ensure safety, fairness, and efficiency within the transportation sector. Toronto regulates both taxis and Uber drivers under its Vehicle-for-Hire Bylaw, requiring drivers to obtain a license, pass background checks, and ensure their vehicles meet safety standards. Fares for taxis are regulated by the city, while Uber uses dynamic pricing.

Vancouver’s approach involves the Passenger Transportation Board of British Columbia, which oversees licensing for both taxis and ride-sharing services. Drivers must obtain a Passenger Transportation License, and vehicles are subject to safety inspections. The city also mandates commercial auto insurance for all drivers. Both cities have adapted their regulations to include ride-sharing services, aiming to balance the traditional taxi industry’s interests with the innovative business models introduced by companies like Uber, ensuring accessibility, safety, and competitive pricing for consumers.

These regulatory frameworks reflect a broader trend of cities updating their policies to address the challenges and opportunities presented by the advent of ride-sharing platforms. By imposing better licensing requirements, safety standards, and insurance mandates, Toronto and Vancouver strive to create a level playing field between taxis and ride-sharing services, ensuring that all operators contribute to a safe, reliable, and equitable transportation ecosystem. These efforts are part of an ongoing dialogue between regulators, service providers, and the public to adapt to changing transportation needs and technological advancements.

Are Uber Drivers More Negligent than other Motorists?

The debate over whether Uber drivers contribute to more car accidents than the general public or taxi drivers has prompted several studies, aiming to provide a clearer picture through statistical analysis. While direct comparisons can be complex due to varying methodologies and the dynamic nature of road traffic environments, key findings offer valuable insights.

Research focusing on the accident rates of Uber drivers relative to the general driving population and taxi drivers has produced mixed results. However, a significant number of studies suggest that Uber drivers are no more negligent than their counterparts. For instance, studies that account for miles driven indicate that when normalized for distance, the accident rates for Uber drivers may actually align closely with or even fall below those of regular motorists and taxi drivers. This is noteworthy considering the high number of hours and miles Uber drivers log, which could theoretically increase their risk of involvement in accidents.

One critical factor in this analysis is Uber’s commitment to safety through its operational policies. The company enforces strict background checks more rigorous than those for typical motorists and comparable to or exceeding taxi driver standards in many jurisdictions. Additionally, Uber’s app incorporates safety features like real-time GPS tracking and behavior monitoring algorithms designed to detect erratic driving, which are not standard for all taxi services.

Moreover, Uber’s rating system serves as a continuous performance review, incentivizing drivers to adhere to safe driving practices to maintain their ability to use the platform. This contrasts with the general public, where such immediate accountability mechanisms are absent, and with taxi drivers, whose reviews may not have the same direct impact on their continued employment.

In conclusion, while the data is still evolving, current research indicates that Uber drivers are no more negligent than regular motorists or taxi drivers. The implementation of technology-driven safety measures and strict operational policies by Uber likely plays a significant role in promoting safe driving behavior among its drivers. Continuous study and transparent reporting are essential for updating these findings and ensuring the safety of all road users.

Is taking an Uber safer than a Taxi?

The answer, in our opinion, is probably yes. When comparing the technological advancements and regulatory frameworks governing Uber and traditional taxi services, Uber emerges as a clear frontrunner in terms of safety.

The ride-sharing giant has leveraged cutting-edge technology to implement a comprehensive suite of safety features, including real-time GPS tracking, in-app emergency buttons, and rigorous driver screening processes, which are not uniformly present or mandated in the traditional taxi industry.

Furthermore, Uber’s dynamic and user-friendly platform facilitates a higher degree of transparency and accountability through features like driver and rider ratings, which directly contribute to enhancing safety standards. While taxis are regulated by local laws that can vary significantly in their stringency and enforcement, Uber’s self-imposed safety measures are consistently applied across all markets it operates. This commitment to safety, underpinned by technology and a proactive approach to regulatory compliance, underscores why many consumers perceive Uber as a safer alternative to traditional taxis.

As we navigate the evolving landscape of urban transportation, it’s clear that our journey towards safer, more reliable taxi and rideshare services is ongoing. Through continued vigilance, regulatory innovation, and technological advancement, we can look forward to a future where every ride is not just a journey, but a safe passage.

Have you been Hurt by an Uber Driver?

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident with Uber or another ridesharing program, navigating the aftermath can be overwhelming and stressful. At Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll a car accident can take on individuals and families. Our team is dedicated to providing compassionate, comprehensive legal support to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Don’t face this challenging time alone. Contact us local in the Southern Ontario Region at 905-333-8888 or Provincewide at 1-844-525-2633 for a free consultation, and let us help you on your journey to recovery. Our expertise in car accident law means we’re equipped to fight for your rights, ensuring the best possible outcome for your case. Remember, time is of the essence in these situations, so reach out today to secure your future and get the justice you deserve.

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