Is Uber a Safe/Cheap Way to Travel?

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 25th Sep 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1booludr/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Other

Uber has been making inroads into the traditional taxi business over the last few months as a method of providing inexpensive rides to passengers needing transport, yet for all of this most Uber drivers are not properly licensed and do not have the correct level of insurance in order to carry passengers. Are you taking you life and personal safety into your own hands when you use Uber as your taxi service?

Sexual Assault

According to the Toronto Star "Toronto police have named a suspect after an Uber driver allegedly sexually assaulted a female passenger on Sept. 15". Toronto Police have stated that a woman was sexually assaulted after she took a ride with a car provided by the new and popular on-line taxi-cab service, Uber. In truth this drives right to the heart of why people should not be using services like Uber for their transportation.

There is a long-held view that official taxi services are over-priced and of course in the current economic climate people everywhere are looking to save a buck or two wherever they can. There are two major problems with using unofficial taxi services, like Uber:

  • Drivers are NOT insured for passenger transportation.
  • Drivers do not have to submit to criminal checks in order to drive.

Our city has for a long time had illegal taxi services, nicknamed Speedy, and my neighbour pulled up one day in one of their cars. It was in a terrible state, looked as if it was days away from the scrap yard and as the drive drove off a plume of black smoke rose from the exhaust. I remember commenting to her that she was putting her life in danger using that service.

Personally I hardly ever use taxis, and of course when I do my eyes are always transfixed on the meter as it ticks over showing me an ever increasing tariff, yet there is one thing that I do know and that is these cars are properly maintained and have to be safetyed every 6 months otherwise the company can lose the license plate.

The Legal Taxi Driver

Most cities, like Toronto, have strict controls over who may be a taxi driver. In order to drive a taxi you have to have been fully insured for a minimum of 3 years and you are not permitted to have a criminal record, furthermore a driver's taxi license may be revoked if they are subsequently found to have a criminal conviction (and sometimes an arrest may impact the right to drive). Additionally many of the largest cities require a test similar to London's black cab "Knowledge" requirements before being granted a license as a taxi driver, so they have to know the streets and are able to properly maintain their vehicle in order to continue driving.

While it may be true that the requirements to start driving a taxi may be less in smaller cities, like Niagara Falls, the criminal records check is still a requirement for any driver and that alone should make any passenger feel safe in the knowledge that they will reach their destination safely.

Additionally many legal taxi companies take pictures of both how the car is driven (the forward view from the windscreen) and the view inside the taxi cab itself, recorded as either still shots at sub-one second intervals or record full video images as well as maintaining a GPS record of the route the driver took at any point in the day, as well as knowing which driver is driving the vehicle at the time any alleged incident happened.

Insurance

Accidents do happen, but many taxi drivers also have a proud record of driving over 20 years (or more) without accident or incident, even-though they typically drive between 200 and 500 kilometres in a day (sometimes more). I asked my insurance company once what that cost would be if I used my car as a taxi and they quoted me a rate that was five times my normal rate. Uber drivers in cities like Toronto, New York, or Los Angeles are supposed to have the correct level of insurance (according to Uber) yet the company not require proof of such an insurance certificate - truth is few drivers would make any money on a part-time basis if they had the correct level of insurance, so few Uber drivers carry anything but their standard level on insurance, which means that paying customers are not insured.

In this case an accident involving the death of a passenger the driver would personally be carrying all the liability and the passenger is in the same position as if the driver were uninsured.

The Uber Driver

I am sure that the majority of Uber drivers are normal law-abiding citizens who are simply seeking to earn extra money in their spare time, the truth is that Uber is incapable of controlling who becomes a driver because they allow anyone to drive in any location, irrespective of whether they have a valid taxi license of not. Any person holding a normal car license is not subject to criminal checks, however any person holding taxi or other commercial licenses are subject to regular criminal record checks and may have their license revoked by the police. The truth is one criminal among the Uber drivers tarnishes all Uber drivers with the same brush.

Of course normal taxi drivers may turn criminal, but the cameras in the car can act as an additional insurance for the passenger while on their journey as does the GPS tracking.

Picture Credits

Images used here are part of the author's collection or are were sourced from the website mentioned.

  • Rape by deccanchronicle.com
  • Taxi symbol
  • Uber Taxi

Other items by Peter Giblett

Peter Giblett regularly publishes here on Wikinut and contributes a semi-regular column on 2 Drops of Ink, a site dedicated to the improvement of writing, grammar, and prose and his own blog called GobbledeGoox. Recent works on Wikinut include:

Wikinut is great a place to share some of your own personal wisdom by adding a comment or becoming a writer, join Wikinut and write.

Tags

Criminal Record Check, Illegal Taxi, Insurance, Legal, Safety, Sexual Assault, Uber

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar Retired
25th Sep 2015 (#)

It takes a long time to gain the London Knowledge - how many Uber drivers are prepared to put in the hours to memorise the route to every street and place of interest in London?

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
25th Sep 2015 (#)

John - the same is true for professional drivers everywhere, they take the time to learn their city, it's short-cuts, alternative routes etc

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author avatar Retired
25th Sep 2015 (#)

Uber has been a successful enterprise BECAUSE it is not controlled.

If you think that being car-licensed, commercially licensed, registered, inspected, criminally checked, 'correctly' insured, photographed, videotaped is going to keep you safe, you are putting a lot of faith in the government to protect you. Self-sufficient people their own thinking and can weigh their own risks in taking an Uber instead of a cab.

Why do you think the government doesn't like Uber? Because the licensing agencies aren't getting their licensing revenues. Working individuals are getting around the overbearing regulations and innovative private enterprise is wonderful, providing services that customers want, when they want it, at a price they're willing to pay, and the freedom to make their own choices instead of the ones government says they should have.

Why do you think Uber has been so successful? When you dwell on the hazards of something new and expect rules and regulations to protect you, we would never have had trains, cars, airplanes, and still would be saddling a horse to travel.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
25th Sep 2015 (#)

...and LeRain female passengers are open to being raped by drivers that cannot be traced.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
25th Sep 2015 (#)

I swear LeRain is certifiably nuts. Uber horror stories are legion. And because it is not controlled, and because it is nor unionized, Uber drivers make as little as 2.64 an hour..

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author avatar Retired
26th Sep 2015 (#)

You, Steve, and Peter both dwell on the horror stories of every innovative enterprise that comes down the pike. What, you can't care of yourself? Make your own decisions? Need the protections of bureaucratchniks to tell you what to do rather than thinking for yourselves? Afraid of being raped by an Uber driver? ROTFLMAO.

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author avatar Retired
26th Sep 2015 (#)

Oh, and I forgot to say that your remarks, Steve, nail you as certifiably stupid. I can play the ad hom game too.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
26th Sep 2015 (#)

Clearly LeRain you see this whole issue as a reason to defend what you term as free enterprise, and in your world you see no place for licensing and regulation of industry for the common good. I am sure even the self-employed taxi entrepreneur complains about the overbearing regulations from time to time but the fact remains that they also know when there is regulation there is a level playing field where they are able to compete fairly. Not all regulation is bad/socialistic.

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author avatar Retired
26th Sep 2015 (#)

Women are being raped by men everywhere without being traced. Sorry, your arguments follow for any other activity or business where there are men. Rape is not a requirement for Uber drivers.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
26th Sep 2015 (#)

LeRain, the reason outfits like Uber need government regulation is because if they are unregulated they cut corners, disregard safety, and rob the public. Regardless of your laissez-faire market ideology, government regulation reins in the excesses of corporate criminals - people like yourself.
You can call me stupid if you want - that is the typical tactic of right wing looney-tunes like yourself. Without brains, that is what people like you always resort to. Scores of Uber drivers have been raping, molesting and even kidnapping women. Just google "Uber horror stories' and you will see the hard evidence. Rape isw not a requirement for Uber drivers, but Uber drivers rape.

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author avatar Retired
26th Sep 2015 (#)

Steve, You do need to be a little careful here not to take your argument too far. You are beginning to sound a bit like Donald Trump complaining about the hordes of Mexican rapists swarming across the border!

I am quite prepared to believe that most Uber drivers are hard-working people who have grabbed an opportunity to make some honest money for themselves. Unfortunately there are some bad apples among them, and that is why they need to be regulated, just as regular cabbies are.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
27th Sep 2015 (#)

I hear you John - you raise a valid point. It's just that LeRain has a way of getting under my skin and I sometimes overreact. Fact is, Uber has a terrible record - some of theior drivers have acted very poorly, even criminally with their passengers. Uber claims thae do good background checks but it turns out they have hired many felons.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
27th Sep 2015 (#)

Please excuse the typos.

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author avatar Retired
25th Sep 2015 (#)

In London it is the registered black cab drivers who are most opposed to Uber, and they are as much "private enterprise" as anyone.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
26th Sep 2015 (#)

John, Most Taxi drivers in most cities in the world are self-employed and are therefore "private enterprise" and as you say it is they who have most to lose as Uber takes hold. (although that said many cab drivers are also registering with Uber to get extra work).

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author avatar M G Singh
26th Sep 2015 (#)

Nice post Peter, but I tend to agree with Welford that all eggs are not bad.. We have had a few rapes in Delhi, but this is normal
. That can happen anywhere

Reply to this comment

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
26th Sep 2015 (#)

Madan, I did not say that all Uber drivers were bad, I am sure the majority are simply seeking a bit of extra cash after they finish working their day job. I sure that there are taxi rapes in many parts of the world bur the licensing ensures they are traceable and can be prosecuted.

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author avatar Ptrikha
26th Sep 2015 (#)

Even in Delhi, we had a case where an Uber driver raped a female passenger. Regulation is essential for such services, but some people circumvent regulations using bribes and/or other means too.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
26th Sep 2015 (#)

Thank you Ptrikha.

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author avatar Carol Roach
26th Sep 2015 (#)

I don't know what to think, here in Montreal, regular taxi drivers hardly make a living as it is. The competition is hurting them, but the Mayor is supporting uber.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
27th Sep 2015 (#)

I think the same is true in many cities and many legal taxi drivers are registering with Uber to earn a couple of extra fares in the day.

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author avatar Retired
27th Sep 2015 (#)

There is therefore a danger if drivers are working extra hours after finishing a full day's work. I would not want to be driven by someone who is not getting enough sleep!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
27th Sep 2015 (#)

John I wasn't talking about taxi drivers working extra hours, they simply accept Uber fares at the same time they are otherwise available in their taxi shift.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
12th Oct 2015 (#)

I think aloud how driver-less cars, around the corner, are going to impact the taxi business.

One way to counter violence against women is by having women drivers for women to have a choice, and maybe Uber can be a path-breaker though some places in India are touted as trail blazers - siva

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
12th Oct 2015 (#)

Many taxi firms do have female drivers precisely for the time when a woman requests a woman.

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author avatar BubbaGump
16th Oct 2015 (#)

all i have to say is that uber drivers are registered with the company so uber knows who their drivers are where they live their social driver license n they will go to JAIL if they commit a crime, life is over. The same there have been many cab rape, killing so either company can be unsafe but you use your instinct to protect you and deny if you feel unsafe. however, insurance does cover passenger injuries or if others cars hit you their insurance can cover passengers injuries. overall, both the driver n passenger will need to register with uber n the apps follow them every step of the way

Reply to this comment

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
17th Oct 2015 (#)

Sir - No Uber driver is properly licensed and most do not have insurance. When a taxi driver obtains their license they have their criminal record checked, no such check is done for Uber drivers and there have been many instances of rapists using Uber as a method of trawling for victims, No app will stop a hunter.

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