2 Uber Drivers Arrested While on Duty, Safety Of Uber Passengers At Stake?

Two separate incidents have happened this weekend including two Uber drivers. The drivers were both arrested while on duty.

According to CNN, the first arrest happened in Palo Alto, California, where the driver was caught and charged with sexual assault after the passenger told the police that the driver made “uninvited advances” to her. The victim also told the police that the driver ignored her requests to stop the vehicle.

The other incident happened in Chicago where the Uber driver was pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. After he was arrested, it was found out that the driver possessed a loaded weapon and a stash of marijuana in the car.

The second driver was then found to have a prior felony conviction and that he does not have a license to carry a firearm.

Now, this begs the question to Uber on whether they hired the driver knowing that he had a criminal record.

Uber Safety, Fraud?

Uber’s idea was simple and practical. They wanted to create an avenue for drivers to earn money and to close the gap of public transportation. Before Uber, commuters would have different issues with taxis including the availability, the unstable rates, and the security of these taxis.

Uber drivers arrested for sexual assault. [Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images]

However, over the past years, Uber has shown that they are not as bulletproof as they claim to be. There have been multiple crimes associated with Uber drivers including, murder, assault, and rape.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick spoke on behalf of his company and defended their stance on security. It has been suggested that they undergo a fingerprint security check before hiring an Uber driver. However, Kalanick does not think this is the best route.

He said, aside from the checks being slow and costly, that the fingerprint check would just limit their opportunities to get drivers. He said that this might not open chances to people who were “unfairly snared” by the U.S. criminal justice system.

“Imagine a country where people might get arrested who shouldn’t get arrested. Imagine if that country were the U.S.,” said Kalanick. “We have systems in place where if you’re arrested, you literally can’t get work, even if you’re found to be innocent. And it’s unjust.”

But, it appears that Kalanick’s fight for justice is backfiring.

In October 2015, another Uber driver, Shiv Kumar, has been charged guilty of raping a woman who was an Uber passenger, according to CNN.

“Sexual assault is a terrible crime and we’re pleased he has now been brought to justice,” Amit Jain, president of Uber India, said in a statement.

Though Uber added safety features like the panic button and a “dedicated local response team,” it appears that after a year of implementation, the passengers are still at risk.

“Safety is a priority for Uber and we’ve made many improvements,” Jain said. “That said, Uber can always do better, which is why are continually looking for ways to improve safety before, during and after the ride.”

Travis Kalanick uber
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick speaks onstage at TechCrunch Discrupt at Pier 48 [Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch]

Kalanick is also facing multiple charges from the drivers regarding payment and benefits. The drivers are claiming for an employee status instead of contractors. If they will be filed as employees, they can have different benefits like expense reimbursements.

However, Kalanick said that the cases are quite interesting. He noted that 60 percent of their drivers work only 10 hours or less in a week. Uber should be a means for people who were laid off to make ends meet. The CEO also added that the drivers are working on their own schedules instead of the traditional clock in, clock out.

“The old school version of the labor movement is one that’s exclusive,” said Kalanick. “Only some people get the benefit of being in a particular union, and it excludes others from participating… The Uber version of the labor movement is it’s inclusive, is that anybody can work.”

So far, Kalanick has not addressed the latest crime issues on Uber driver.

[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]