New scrutiny for Uber following shootings

Posted at 11:35 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 11:00:11-05

New questions are being raised about the safety the popular ride sharing service Uber.

In Kalamazoo, Jason Dalton confessed to killing 6 and injuring 2 others and did the shootings while driving for Uber.

Dalton is in jail in Kalamazoo, charged with murder and attempted murder. Officials confirm the evidence shows Dalton did them in between providing Uber rides Saturday night.

Dalton had no criminal history, no history of mental illness and his motive is still not known.

Uber officials said in a news conference call yesterday they make customer safety a top priority.

“When we do receive complaints about violence, we do suspend the driver immediately while we investigate the allegations,” said Uber security advisor Joe Sullivan.

In the case of Jason Dalton Saturday night, that did not happen immediately.  And Dalton went on to kill.

Uber does say Dalton was just approved to drive for them on January 25; he had given about 100 rides and had a good customer rating of 4-point 73 stars out of a possible 5.

But the Uber screening is again under scrutiny.

To become anUuber driver, you apply online and must provide:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Vehicle registration
  • Insurance
  • Proof of a vehicle inspection.

Uber X drivers use their own cars.

The national TV show Crimewatch on our sister station tv20 Detroit, tested Uber and it failed to catch not one, but 3 convicted felons who applied to be Uber drivers.

Uber uses a 3rd party called Checkr to do driver background checks.  But it is limited to looking back only 7 years.

The 3 applicants Crimewatch used had convictions beyond that 7-year reach.

Critics of Uber say it should run fingerprints, but the company responds even FBI records are not always accurate.

Another criticism about Uber is if you apply to be a driver and you use your own vehicle and you’re approved, you never deal with anybody face to face.  It’s all online and the next thing you get is smart phones in the mail and you hit the road.

The stakes are high for Uber.  Earlier this month it agreed to pay $28.5 million to settle 2 lawsuits about safety and fees.

Los Angeles and San Francisco also have lawsuits pending alleging the company failed to prevent several felons from being hired.

In response to the litigation, Uber stopped using slogans like “safer than a taxi” and “industry-leading background checks.”

Detroit reached an agreement in 2014 for Uber to operate here.  And get this: after Kalamazoo, the city attorney just sent Uber an email asking for verification that annual criminal background checks are done, and any driver convicted at any time for fraud, sexual offenses, use of a vehicle to commit a felony, theft and acts of violence shall not be permitted to drive.

More layers of Uber safety come at a cost.  Brentwood Limousine in Macomb County hires its own drivers and they drive for Uber Black.

That service is available on the Uber app, but it can cost 3 to 4 times more per trip than Uber X, a guy driving his own car.

Liability could become a new issue for Uber with 6 dead and 2 injured in Kalamazoo.