National Limousine Association Calls for Better Background Checks at Uber and Lyft

By Michael Klazema on 2/13/2018
The National Limousine Association (NLA) is calling on ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft to improve their background check policies. According to a recent press release from the NLA, the association is “renewing” its campaign against the ridesharing industry. The association has fought for stricter background checks at companies such as Uber and Lyft over the years, but the release suggests a redoubling of efforts going forward.

The NLA is calling for legislation to require ridesharing companies to conduct fingerprint-based background checks on all drivers.The association also wants drug screenings to be a standard part of the rideshare background screening process.

The announcement from the NLA comes in the wake of a recent PSA that the organization produced in collaboration with the nonprofit organization Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment (or PAVE). The PSA features actress and model Pamela Anderson and suggests a recent flood of sexual assault allegations against rideshare drivers may have been the result of lax background check policies. Anderson herself is a survivor of rape and sexual abuse.

Uber and Lyft responded to the PSA from NLA and PAVE, downplaying the suggestion their background checks were ineffective. Both services said their background checks do plenty to ensure the safety of passengers. The NLA refuted that claim in the press release, alleging ridesharing companies have “missed thousands of drivers with criminal backgrounds” and have had to dismiss considerable portions of their workforce as a result.

Speaking on the issue, NLA President Gary Buffo said a truly “comprehensive” background check process for ridesharing drivers would include fingerprint-based checks and find convictions “many years back and across state lines.” Buffo called for ridesharing companies to implement in-person interviews and drug and alcohol screening policies—both things that neither Uber or Lyft do currently. Buffo suggested the lack of drug screenings in ridesharing is irresponsible given the nation’s opioid crisis.

In the past, Uber and Lyft have both fought back against any campaign for expanded background checks. Both companies rely in part on ease and accessibility to fill out their workforces. Individuals can easily sign up to become drivers for either service if they want to make extra money accepting fares. Uber background check requirements include driver’s license and Motor Vehicle Record checks and disqualifies drivers who have been convicted of felonies, sexual offenses, or violent crimes in the last seven years.

Ridesharing companies have repeatedly come under fire for not doing enough to protect their passengers—and not just from the NLA. Last year, California legislators deliberated a bill that would have required fingerprinting for ridesharing companies. The bill didn’t pass. Previously, Uber and Lyft abandoned Austin, Texas after the city implemented a fingerprint requirement. When statewide regulatory legislation undid the local rule a year later, both ridesharing companies resumed service in Austin.


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