Bill strengthens ridesharing rules

Capitol News

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Getting an Uber or Lyft can be a gamble, but a new law could ease some concerns.

Drivers now have to go through even tougher background checks. It’s a move lawmakers hope will keep more passengers safe.

Uber already asks for names, drivers license numbers, car registration and insurance information, but now drivers will have to cough up social security numbers and full government name.

It’s a small step lawmakers hope will keep dangerous predators from giving unsuspecting passengers a lift.

“We’ve had passengers that have been drunk, that have been raped by an Uber driver. We’ve had an Uber driver that was actually chased by an axe in the parking lot of a Walmart.”

They’re the horror stories you read in the headlines. When it comes to ridesharing companies, they’re often in the news for all the wrong reasons.

The Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association counted 97 assaults last summer alone. Lynn Gory, who is retired, knows firsthand.

“There has been many instances where a male driver has approached a female ride and made them run from the car.”

For three years, she was an Uber driver. It’s a job she took great pride in.

“I feel like I have my children in the backseat. Honestly, I drive a little bit different, a little more cautious. I want to make sure they get to where they’re going safe.”

But, at the time, she says the company’s security policies didn’t take the same precautions.

“There should have always been deeper laws in place to protect the passengers. I think that history has showed us there should be a lot of things in place.”

Uber has since stepped things up adding new features to keep passengers safe. But, Illinois lawmakers are taking things a step further.

Effective immediately, all drivers will undergo more extensive background checks to ensure no one with a record gets behind the wheel.

“You’re putting your life in someone’s hands that you have no idea about, so I think it’s really important that they do increase those background checks.”

Frequent travelers, like Felecia, are happy to hear it. As a young woman, she says the process can feel uneasy.

“Absolutely, I’d hop in one now if I needed it.”

The idea to tighten up background checks came after an Uber driver was arrested on the job for drinking and driving. It turned out he was on court supervision for the same problem.

The bill initially set out to ban people with a history of DUI, but that part of the plan was dropped. The bill’s sponsor could not be reached for comment. actively tracks drivers who harm or offend passengers. According to the site, since 2014, drivers have caused 51 deaths; the number of alleged assaults is 101; and the number of kidnappings is 14.

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