Md. officials approve alternative background checks for Uber and Lyft. (WJZ)
The recent op-ed by a taxicab lobbyist on why he believes Uber drivers should be fingerprinted was erroneous and misleading ("Md. Uber and Lyft drivers should be fingerprinted," Dec. 20). First, he points to several anecdotes of violent crimes committed by people who happen to be Uber drivers (although the crimes were not committed while using the service or against Uber passengers), even though similar crimes have been committed by cab drivers. Second, he ignores the fact that the technology used by Uber adds to the safety of the service far more than any government regulation could.
Uber records the details of every ride, including the identities of the driver and passenger, the date and time of the trip, and the pick-up and drop-off locations. Compare that with a cab ride, where passengers generally travel anonymously and there's no verification of whether they reached their destination safely, other than the word of the driver. An Uber driver can't lie about whether he picked up someone or dropped them off at their destination.
Uber also uses a rating system in which passengers rate drivers, and drivers rate passengers. As anyone familiar with Amazon.com, Angie's List, Yelp, or similar services will tell you, consumer reviews help steer others away from poor (or unsafe) products or service providers. A person hailing a cab has no information on the driver. With Uber, the rider can see whether previous passengers have reported any concerns and decide to wait for a different driver.
Forcing burdensome taxicab regulations on Uber is like forcing Apple to install rotary dials on the iPhone. The Public Service Commission understood that fingerprinting drivers would add no benefit for the cost, given Uber's existing background check practices. The PSC's decision is a win for Maryland consumers.