In our last post, we talked about the move to require intensive background checks on Uber and Lyft drivers in Massachusetts. Before that news story developed, however, there was already something of a minor controversy brewing in Maryland, with the two companies arguing they should not be required to fingerprint drivers, long a standard practice in the state when it came to taxi drivers.
The ridesharing companies are arguing that their own standard background checks are more effective and up-to-date, and that fingerprinting might tend to discriminate against minority drivers, who are more likely to have been arrested and fingerprinted than others. (Studies often show racial disparities in terms of such matters as drug arrests.) Uber has threatened to withdraw its business from Maryland over the matter, though the firm makes an exception in New York City, where fingerprinting is required.
Of course, even as personal injury attorneys, it’s hard to know the impact something like fingerprinting in terms of whether or not it improves the safety of passengers and others. On the surface, it might be tempting to simply argue that any attempt to heighten the level of security is all to the good, regardless of whether or not such a move might unfairly remove some otherwise fully qualified and responsible drivers from consideration. Others would argue, however, that the appearance of tighter security offered by fingerprinting does not necessarily translate into greater safety for everyone concerned. Another argument on the pro-fingerprinting side might be that screening out people who might have been formally involved with drugs or had DUI charges, even if not convicted, might seem like a sure plus in terms of safety.
All we can really say is that the, regardless, the public should stay on their toes whenever they get into a rideshare or taxi cab. Even the best screening program in the world will never be 100% effective at screening out problematic individuals.