8,200 Massachusetts Ridesharing Contractors Fail Mandatory Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 4/20/2017
In November, Massachusetts passed regulations to impose the strictest background checks in the country on individuals who contract for ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. The results of those stricter background checks have been made public. Per a report from The Boston Globe, the state ran checks on nearly 71,000 drivers who work as contractors for companies like Uber and Lyft. The checks identified more than 8,200 contractors with red-flag offenses that will bar them from working for ridesharing companies in the future.

The 71,000 drivers that the State of Massachusetts screened for this first round of background checks had all passed the background checks in place at Uber and Lyft, coverage explains. Those checks have received criticism over the past few years while Uber has argued that they are faster and more reliable than many other types of background screenings. More than 11.5% of drivers cleared by internal checks from ridesharing companies failed to meet the standards put in place by the state.

Most people who failed their checks did so because of driving-related issues, reports note. Some had driving offenses on their records and others were driving on suspended licenses. Massachusetts doesn’t permit individuals to drive for ridesharing companies if they have been licensed for less than five years. The 8,200 failed background checks include these newly-licensed drivers.

Per the Associated Press, 300 drivers had felony convictions that had gone overlooked under the Uber and Lyft checks. 51 of the drivers flagged by the state checks were registered sex offenders.

While Massachusetts does not run fingerprint background checks on drivers—something that many legislators are urging for Uber and Lyft contractors—the state does examine state criminal records and driving histories. The Boston Globe report quoted a commissioner who oversees ridesharing regulations in Portland who said that the new system in Massachusetts, and the number of people that failed checks after they had already been cleared by Uber and Lyft, offers “food for thought.”

Per reports, Uber and Lyft have hit back against the Massachusetts checks following the announcement that 8,200 drivers failed their screenings. Uber said that the checks included “an unfair and unjust indefinite lookback period” and cost thousands of people “access to economic opportunities.” Uber and Lyft are only legally permitted to look back at the last seven years of a contractor’s driving history. The Massachusetts checks permit the state to look back decades.

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