Excerpted from Travel Pulse By Mia Taylor
More than 150 Uber and Lyft drivers have been suspended for offenses that should have blocked them for working for the two rideshare companies in the first place.
The workers in question were employed in Portland, Oregon and the offenses range from traffic violations to felonies, according to ABC News.
The suspensions, 168 in total, were confirmed by the Portland Department of Transportation, ABC News reported. In some cases, the department completely revoked permits for the workers in question.
Two of the Lyft drivers were convicted felons, one with a sexual assault conviction. The second had been convicted of assault with intent to murder.
The issues surrounding the drivers in question were discovered as the Portland Bureau of Transportation conducted random checks, according to John Brady, director of communications for the agency.
“For 80 people a month, we do the full background check, we do criminal history and if the person is on the sex offender list,” Brady told ABC News. They also do a series of random field checks using “secret shoppers and uniformed personnel” who check the safety of the vehicles and more.
“We want these consumers to be safe, in terms of physical safety and the mechanical safety of the cars as well as the drivers, so we would like Uber and Lyft to do everything that they can to make sure that that takes place,” Brady added. “We’re still going to continue to do our own checks, we found it a good backup system to enhance consumer protections.”
There are a variety of reasons why a rideshare driver can be disqualified in Oregon including not having had a driver’s license continuously for the past year. Drivers can also be disqualified for having several traffic violations, or for not having a valid license at all.
“We have tens of thousands of taxi, Uber and Lyft drivers and by and large, they are safe drivers and safe individuals, but we’re committed to finding anyone who isn’t and make sure that they aren’t driving,” Brady told the news outlet.
When contacted by ABC News, Uber offered the following statement:
“There’s nothing more important than the safety of the drivers and riders we serve. We have strengthened our background checks and introduced new screening technology that monitors new criminal offenses. But safety does not start and end with a background check.”
“Uber has a number of safety features in place for riders and drivers, including an emergency button with 911 integration technology in more than 250 cities across the US, including Portland. We will continue to put safety at the heart of our business,” the statement continued.
For its part, Lyft told ABC News that safety is a key priority for the company. Lyft’s statement on the matter also noted that since the company’s earliest operations, its products and policies have been built with a focus on safety.
“All those who apply to drive with Lyft are screened for criminal offenses and driving incidents,” the Lyft statement continued. “Lyft was the first rideshare company to institute criminal background checks. Just this summer we announced an expansion of our criminal background check process to include continuous monitoring, as well as a new enhanced identity verification process.”
Lyft also said in its statement to ABC News that any driver who does not pass the initial, annual, and continuous screenings is not able to use the platform.
“We are constantly working to improve the safety of our platform and are committed to delivering the best experience for all users,” the company said.