The Washoe County District Court ruled against ride-sharing company Uber on Tuesday. The firm’s lack of regulation and adherence to the laws that currently govern taxis in the state led to a preliminary injunction to prohibit Uber from operating in Nevada. Similar fights have been picked by taxi drivers and state regulatory agencies in seven states across the nation.
States ranging from the West, such as California, to the East, such as Connecticut, have raised serious questions about the app’s safety and fairness. Uber assures that although their drivers are not licensed chauffeurs, they are thoroughly screened before and during their employment with the company. NBC4, a Southern California news station, conducted an investigation on the company and found countless instances of drivers with criminal pasts ranging from drug use to reckless driving. Other instances in which drivers have been arrested while carrying Uber passengers have occurred also, including sexual assault as well as one driver who attacked his rider with a hammer. While Uber immediately suspends any driver charged with serious allegations, these suspensions may not come soon enough.
This is not to say that these risks are not taken when an individual gets into a normal taxicab or car service, but there are notable differences. Taxis are required by law to post the company’s phone number alongside the driver’s name and ID number inside the vehicle. Conversely, Uber drivers are held accountable through ratings given by riders, and any problems are to be taken up with Uber’s headquarters separate from the ride. These complaints are also facilitated through social media and email since the company does not have a physical location or phone number. This creates discrepancies and assumptions on both sides. Further transparency exists for taxis in New York, for example, which posts all legal requirements for drivers on their website, including drug tests, fingerprinting, required driving courses, etc.
What began with serious questions of regulation has led to other distinctions between ride-share companies and taxicabs. Gaps in insurance, background checks, and overall safety have crept up on Uber and similar applications. Uber markets itself as a safe and affordable alternative to taxis, but can these claims be trusted when their customers are left feeling violated and in danger?
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.