It seems that there’s not a week that crawls past that we don’t hear about ride hailing services. Typically over drivers and background check shortcomings, whether it be Lyft or Uber. However Uber does seem to have more than it’s fair share of negative press. Now compounded by the recent shootings in Kalamazoo. The company confirm that the shooter did pass their background check process. Police also confirm that the shooter had no criminal record. However questions resurface around how Uber define a fit and proper driver. How far should ride hailing firms go without compromising civil liberties. If driver’s are face to face with all members of society how far should they be placed under the microscope.
An interesting point is the disparity in the background check process used by higher end services. The advocacy campaign Who’s driving You details key differences in the background check process. Who’s driving you works on behalf of the Taxi cab, Limousine and Para Transit Associations. Limousine and taxi companies go one step further and rely on law enforcement to review finger prints. This in contrast to third party background check companies processing a name only. However it still follows, irrespective, that the Kalamazoo shooter would have passed any background check and finger print processing by law enforcement. There remains a depressing grey area that this may well happen again, albeit statistically exceptionally remote. Once again the ongoing dichotomy of background check V gun law rumbles on relentless.
Uber correctly confirm that no background check could have foreseen this tragedy. What the events also spotlight though is how far mental health issues play a key role in background checks and gun control. Uber also confirm that the shooter scored well on checks and had positive feedback from over 100 rides. Perhaps though one worrying flag is that the shooter had only been with the company since January 25th. Does this prompt concerns over whether the shooter’s actions were pre meditated and/or he had a grudge. Should there be a probationary or grace period for all driver’s. How far should ride hailing firms go towards mentoring and training and encouraging a sense of community for drivers. How far do you intrude in to the cab, be it software or video, to protect passengers. A ride prior to the shootings confirmed an erratic and hair raising journey. If this journey would have been flagged could any process have had any meaningful intervention.