Oakton Outlook

How safe is Uber?

Discover what type of company Uber is and how safe they are.

Yara Mohamed, staff writer

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What happens when people want to go somewhere but have no transportation? Without a car, it’s hard to get around in most places. Taxis and cabs are available, but most millennials and high schoolers are not too familiar with them, and most would prefer not to call one every time they need to go somewhere for a simple task. Uber answered the need for easy rides with an app that gives people access to drivers that can drop them off at their desired destination. What seems like a simple, easy idea might not be safe enough.

Uber was started in 2009 by Travis Kalalnick and Garrett Camp as UberCab. Originally it was used as a car transportation app that hired drivers to drive customers. As they got more popular more services were provided, such as UberX, UberGarage, UberTaxil, UberPool, UberEats, and UberRUSH, with the goal to drive customers to their destinations. UrbanX gives Uber drivers the ability to drive their own car instead of an Uber car, while UberGarage and UberTaxi gives the option to hire a taxi driver in urban areas. And for a cheaper fare, UberPool is where more than one customer gets into the same Uber as long as their destination is in the same place. UberEats and UberRUSH are for delivering food and groceries, not car rides like the other services. Two less known services of the company are UberCHOPPER and UberBOATS. They’re not advertized as much as their other services and more expensive, causing them to be less popular. Uber is an extremely popular car transportation hitting over one billion rides in 2015. They’re in 300 cities around in six continents so the safety varies.

So is safety a priority to Uber? They have many regulations and safety advice displayed on their website for both drivers and riders. It tells riders to wait inside until the driver is there, to check the car’s license for matchup, share their drive with friends, and other helpful necessary advice. Drivers are also given an intensive background check. Although they have been criticized greatly because they don’t require most of their drivers to fingerprint unlike other taxi companies. But in both taxis and Ubers, customers are getting into a car with a stranger. There is also no way to figure out if Uber is safer than a taxi because cities don’t keep track of where the incidents happen. Uber refuses to require fingerprints because it slows down their driver sign up. There have been many incidents, even though Uber is known to be relatively safe. Saba Arjmand,12, has used Uber many times and agrees with it’s safety. “From one to ten, I think it’s nine[on how safe it is]. No [I’ve never had anything bad happen] so that’s pretty good,” said Arjmand.

Things have gone wrong before in Uber rides, but there are very rare compared to the usual successful service. In October 2014, a woman claimed to be kidnapped by her driver when he took a the wrong route and locked her in the car for two hours until she caused a commotion. In September 2014, an UberX driver assaulted his passenger with a hammer that left him with a fractured skull and a bloody eye. Drivers have also been the victim in the attacks. On March 18, 2016 the driver was shot twice and drove into a tree in Detroit, Michigan. The next day in Inglewood, California a separate driver was shot with his car covered in bullet holes. They both died from the shots. While how many incidents occur are unclear, Uber stated in August 2015 there has been five rape incidents and about 170 sexual assaults.

Uber has not dealt with safety incidents in the best way. They usually apologize and refund the fare price, but sometimes deny what happens and refuse to take the blame. The main problem with Uber safety is customers not knowing what they’re going to be dealing with in regards to drivers.

There have been scandals with Uber recently because of Kalanick’s political affiliation with President Trump. Kalanick was on the Trump Advisory Council, until February 2, 2017, when he left due to criticism. The day before, there was a taxi strike in the JFK airport because of the Muslim ban announcement. Instead of respecting local taxi drivers and the strike’s message, Uber responded by allowing their drivers to keep working. While it may have helped them earn extra money, it gave Uber a negative image. Many people are deleting their Uber app and sharing the screenshot under the hashtag #DeleteUber. And after the mishap with the ban, they lost 200,000 customers.They also lost customers to Lyft because of Lyft’s CEO condemning Trump.

Everyone will most likely have a safe experience with Uber as long as they follow the safety rules Uber provides. Some simple guidelines to follow include getting into the right car, making sure your route is on the GPS, and following your intuition. It’s a good solution for people who don’t have access to cars. So while Uber has had many incidents and a political affiliation people may not like, it’s safe for now.

Do you think Uber is safe?

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How safe is Uber?