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Uber, trading safety for convenient service

UBER with credit
Katie Olson, Editor-in-Chief

Let’s take the Uber!

I’ll be honest, I was not aware that another taxi service in Denton existed until one of my friends made the suggestion. At the time, my impression of Uber was of a cheaper alternative to taking a taxi. With its low prices, this ride-share service almost completely eliminates the need for a designated driver. After doing my own investigative digging though I’ve found that Uber is not as innovative or as safe as the company would have you believe.

Beginnings

According to the company website, Uber was founded back in March 2009. The service has since extended to over 60 countries in various cities including DFW. The company hires independent contractors i.e.: regular individuals to pick up customers in their own cars while earning fares around the contractors’ schedules. Furthermore, the company states online that drivers are screened through background checks, and must follow a strict code of conduct. However, when you look further into the company’s history, more red flags are raised.

Concerns of Safety

As recently as July 25th, according to the Dallas Morning News online, a passenger accused an Uber driver of sexual assault. The crime blog explains that the victim was followed into her home after the alleged driver, Talal Ali Chammout, dropped her off. What I found more alarming is that Chammout has a previous criminal record including charges brought on him by the federal government according to the article.

Uber’s statement in response to the Chammout allegation was that all drivers must pass a background check along with a city background check, in Chammout’s case, the city of Dallas. According to the city, Chammout was not registered as a livery driver.

I find this case particularly alarming because it isn’t the first case made against Uber. A public service campaign online called who’sdrivingyou.org lists a number of incidents involving the ride-share company, including but not limited to alleged sexual assaults, kidnappings, and accidental deaths. Looking at the facts, it is disturbingly clear. Ride-share services such as Uber do not hold a stellar record of safety. Nor would it seem that they thoroughly check the backgrounds of their drivers before contracting them out to give unwitting citizens a lift.

Why take the risk?

I do not believe that all Uber drivers are shady felons looking to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals. My own experience with Uber was pleasant and safe. And the ride-share employs many college students looking to make extra cash to make ends meet.

But I feel that the popularity of the company should make way for healthy caution. If you do decide to use the service, bring a friend with you. Text a loved one and tell them you’re on your way home. If nothing else, negotiate with your friends to decide on a designated driver. It may seem as an inconvenience at the time, but personally I’d rather drive with people that run the risk of allowing a stranger to take me home.

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