Shooting By Uber Driver Underscores Need For Increased Safety Measures

CHICAGO – Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Local 2500 released the following statement in response to the horrific shootings in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where an Uber driver picked up fares in between shooting eight people, killing six.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims of this senseless crime.  The horrific murders in Kalamazoo are devastating not only to those directly affected by these senseless murders, but communities across the nation. 

Cities around the country must take steps to protect consumers and do everything in their power to prevent further horrific incidents like this.  That’s why every Chicago cab driver must pass a law enforcement background check, and why our union has been calling for over a year, for the same rules to apply to Uber, Lyft and other so-called ‘rideshare’ services as well.

Unfortunately, at the present time, the City of Chicago does not track crime data on drivers for services like Uber and Lyft like it does professional cab drivers.

In Austin, Texas law enforcement compared the number of assaults and “unwanted sexual contact” in licensed taxis and rideshare vehicles.

Of the 27 cases reported in 2015, 20 occurred in Uber or Lyft vehicles, five occurred in a taxi and two occurred in an “independent rideshare”.  Furthermore, there were 7 reported assaults committed by rideshare drivers.

While the Austin police department works with assault victim advocacy organizations to recommend more stringent background checks for drivers, the City of Chicago is comfortable allowing companies like Uber and Lyft to self-report “deactivations” of drivers, with no oversight over the internal investigation.

Instead of providing transparency, the City of Chicago has denied Freedom of Information Act requests for the names of rideshare drivers on the basis that the information is deemed “proprietary” while publishing the names of every cab driver.

Even in cases of violent crime, the City of Chicago continues to bend over backward to accommodate services like Uber and Lyft to the direct detriment of public safety and accountability.”