关于拼车服务和背景调查的争论并不新鲜。多年来，拼车企业——主要是优步和 Lyft——因其司机背景调查政策而受到批评。两家公司都因司机的犯罪行为而陷入争议。一个名为“谁在开车？”的网站 甚至跟踪涉及拼车司机的事件——包括身体攻击、性侵犯、性骚扰、绑架甚至过失致死的指控。
优步和 Lyft 进行了反击，称他们的背景调查是彻底的，甚至放弃了新法规要求对拼车公司进行指纹检查的市场。同时，这两家公司 多年来都在改进他们的驾驶员筛选协议。例如，优步和 Lyft 都 在他们的人员审查策略中增加了 持续的犯罪监控。尽管发生了这些变化，但 Uber 和 Lyft 的背景调查似乎仍有改进的空间。
2019 年 9 月，由 14 名性侵犯幸存者组成的团体 对 Lyft 提起联合诉讼。这起向加州最高法院提起的诉讼称，Lyft 在其有关性侵犯指控的政策上存在疏忽。
首先，诉讼指出，Lyft 对性骚扰没有零容忍政策，也没有适当的协议来调查性侵犯或强奸的指控曝光。其次，诉讼称，Lyft 故意允许被指控性侵犯或强奸的个人继续为服务开车，即使在这些人被报告给服务之后。第三，诉讼辩称 Lyft 未能正确审查其司机，部分原因是它更喜欢基于姓名的背景调查而不是 基于指纹的背景调查. 最后，该诉讼提出了 Lyft 可用于监控行程的策略，包括驾驶员车辆中的音频或视频记录设备。Lyft 确实在 2019 年 5 月为其应用程序添加了一项新功能，允许乘客在认为自己处于危险之中时只需按一下按钮即可拨打 911。
这起诉讼促使 Lyft 宣布了几项变化。一个变化是实施了一项新的“智能行程登记”功能，该功能可以检测乘车过程中的“意外延误”，并联系司机和乘客，以确定他们是否需要 Lyft 的支持或紧急援助。Lyft 还向强奸、虐待和乱伦国家网络 (RAINN) 捐赠了 150 万美元，并与该组织合作为其司机推出了一项新的教育计划。展望未来，所有 Lyft 司机“将被要求完成额外的强制性社区安全教育”。
虽然 Lyft 最近首当其冲受到公众的强烈抗议，但 Uber 并未毫发无损。同样在 2019 年 9 月， 《 华盛顿邮报》 刊登了一篇 关于优步如何使用“三击”系统对司机进行纪律处分的报道。在大多数情况下，司机最多可以累积三项“未经证实的指控”——包括性侵犯或强奸的指控——甚至不会被应用程序暂停。这篇文章还研究了优步的“调查部门”，该部门旨在保护公司免于承担责任，而不是保护客户。
就 Lyft 和 Uber 背景调查和保护政策再次引发争议之际，许多新的拼车公司正试图对 Uber 和 Lyft 模式进行扭曲。这些公司——包括 HopSkipDrive、Zum 和 Bubbi——都在《今日美国》的 一篇文章中进行了讨论 ， 并且都属于一个新的拼车类别：“优步儿童版”。
优步和 Lyft 都制定了政策，指示司机不要接载 18 岁以下的乘客。这些新服务旨在为无人陪伴的未成年人提供交通选择。每个企业都有严格的背景调查政策和其他驱动程序要求。例如，HopSkipDrive 使用“FBI 批准”的指纹背景调查，并要求所有司机至少有五年的看护经验。Bubbi 在汽车中使用摄像机来记录和监控每次骑行——这是 Lyft 案件中的原告目前正在寻求的要求。
Who’s Driving You?” even tracks incidents involving rideshare drivers—including allegations of physical assault, sexual assault, sexual harassment, kidnapping, and even wrongful death.
Uber and Lyft have fought back, arguing that their background checks are thorough and even abandoning markets where new regulations spring up demanding fingerprint checks for ridesharing companies. At the same time, both companies have evolved their driver screening protocols over the years. For instance, both Uber and Lyft have added ongoing criminal monitoring to their strategies for vetting personnel. Despite these evolutions, it seems that Uber and Lyft background checks still have room to improve.
In September 2019, a group of 14 sexual assault survivors filed a joint lawsuit against Lyft. The suit, filed in the California Supreme Court, alleges that Lyft has been negligent in its policies surrounding sexual assault allegations.
First, the suit states that Lyft does not have a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment and does not have a proper protocol for investigating allegations of sexual assault or rape when they come to light. Second, the suit alleges that Lyft has knowingly allowed individuals accused of sexual assault or rape to continue driving for the service even after those individuals were reported to the service. Third, the suit argues that Lyft has failed to vet its drivers properly, in part due to its preference for name-based background checks over fingerprint-based background checks. Finally, the suit proposes strategies that Lyft could use to monitor rides, including audio or video recording equipment in driver vehicles. Lyft did add a new feature to its app in May 2019 that allows passengers to call 911 at the tap of a button should they believe that they are in danger.
The lawsuit prompted Lyft to announce several changes. One change was the implementation of a new “Smart Trip Check-In” feature that detects “unexpected delays” in rides and contacts both drivers and passengers to determine if they require support from Lyft or emergency assistance. Lyft also donated $1.5 million to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and partnered with the organization to launch a new educational program for its drivers. Going forward, all Lyft drivers “will be required to complete additional mandatory Community Safety Education.”
While Lyft has been bearing the brunt of public outcry most recently, Uber hasn’t escaped unscathed. Also in September 2019, the Washington Post ran a story about how Uber uses a “three strikes” system to discipline drivers. In most cases, drivers can accumulate up to three “uncorroborated allegations”—including accusations of sexual assault or rape—without even being suspended from the app. The article also looked inside Uber’s “investigations unit,” which works to shield the company from liability rather than protect customers.
This renewed controversy over Lyft and Uber background checks and protective policies comes at a moment when numerous new ridesharing companies are trying to launch twists on the Uber and Lyft model. The companies—which include HopSkipDrive, Zum, and Bubbi—were all discussed in a USA Today article and are all part of a new ridesharing category: “Uber for kids.”
Uber and Lyft both have policies that instruct drivers not to pick up passengers who are under 18. These new services are designed to offer transportation options for unaccompanied minors. Each business has rigorous background check policies and other driver requirements. For instance, HopSkipDrive uses “FBI-approved” fingerprint background checks and requires all drivers to have at least five years of caregiving experience. Bubbi uses video cameras in cars to record and monitor each ride—the requirement that plaintiffs in the Lyft case are currently seeking.
As these stories and developments make clear, background checks and other safety protections for ridesharing services are still a work in progress. Despite their substantial presence in our society, these services have only been around for a decade, and they are still finding their footing. The good news is that new businesses launching in this space—particularly “Uber for kids” services—seem to recognize the paramount importance of vetting their drivers thoroughly.