ABC News and the Associated Press are reporting that Uber, Lyft and the state of Massachusetts have reached an agreement in which ridesharing drivers will be required to undergo a comprehensive background check. According to the report, the screening process will have two tiers, and will be performed both by the ridesharing companies and the state. Other articles are commenting that the changes are arriving earlier than expected, though the company background checks have already been in place.
From the point of a view of a personal injury attorney, this seems likes a sensible enough step. While a company background check may very well help to screen out drivers with potential issues in their past history, there’s no substitute for the ability of a state like Massachusetts to look for any signs of past felonies or serious driving offenses, not to mention signs of possible violent crimes. Since California and Massachusetts have many similarities as states, it will be interesting to see if any such changes are instituted here. It might also be a good idea to explore whether the current practices in terms of insuring drivers while they are on the job are fully sufficient.
That being said, it’s still a very good idea for Uber and Lyft customers to exercise their own caution when taking advantage of a ridesharing service. Background checks, performed either by companies or government entities, are no substitute for basic common sense. If a driver seems to be behaving erratically, smells of alcohol or another suspicious substance, or any other danger signs seem to present itself, think before you make your next move. In other words, if something about a ridesharing driver seems fishy, there’s no law that says you have to get into their car.