Uber, Lyft can be dangerous ride for drivers and passengers

Miami Valley News
4-1-19 lyft stock photo

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The murder of South Carolina college student Samantha Josephson on Saturday shook the rideshare business across the country and the passengers that make up its customer base. 

Josephson requested a ride home on Saturday from Uber but got in the wrong car. The car was a black Chevy Impala driven by Nathaniel David Rowland who’s been charged with kidnapping and murdering Josephson.  

Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have been under scrutiny since they were formed.  

Walt Brown of Walt’s Taxi Service in Dayton said they spent billions on marketing and grew market share they were never prepared to handle.  

“(Rideshares) I don’t think much of them,” Brown said. “They basically use amateur drivers who don’t have enough experience and don’t understand you may be getting paid to run trips, but you aren’t getting reimbursed for running your own vehicle.”  

The number of crimes committed by rideshare drivers has been under heavy scrutiny since the services started. Many question the lack of regulation while others bring up the positives of the services, such as keeping less drunk drivers on the road.  

It’s also a dangerous job for divers. Kristina Howato, who was 39 years old and pregnant, was stabbed to death by a passenger in January while driving for Lyft in Tempe, Az.

Drivers have little way to screen potential customers other than the service’s own customer rating system.   

College students make up a large part of Uber and Lyft’s customer base. When asked to comment about its policies concerning students and rideshares, the University of Dayton sent the following statement: 

The University of Dayton regularly provides safety tips for its students. These include being alert and aware of people around you, don’t walk alone, go with a with a friend, group or use Flyer Ride, a public safety service staffed by students in clearly marked cars to provide free rides for faculty, staff and students within the university area. 

One major issue Brown had with Lyft and Uber, their vehicles aren’t as clearly marked as taxis. Most taxis have decals, top lights and other signage and are easy to identify.  

“With Uber and Lyft, there’s room for confusion,” Brown said. “Uber sends a picture of the driver and their license plate number.” 

To be a licensed taxi driver in Dayton, you submit fingerprints and they put them through a criminal database. The online background checks required by Uber and Lyft have missed identifying criminals applying to drive, including four in Los Angeles who had serious criminal backgrounds.  

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