Uber driver kidnaps rider, takes him on high speed case. New background checks working great

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on July 10, 2014

From The News Desk

Here's a fun lesson for "cult of disruption" companies: When you build an entire business around evading the law, there's a chance some of your "employees" might... uh... internalize that message.

The Washington Post reports the terrifying ordeal experienced by Uber rider Ryan Simonetti who was kidnapped by his driver and taken on a high speed chase to evade a DC taxi inspector.

“It was like an episode of ‘Cops,’” Simonetti said. “We’ve all seen the ‘Cops’ episode. This only ends two ways. Either the car crashes or the guy jumps out and runs. And he had plenty of opportunities to slow down and jump out and run, and he wasn’t doing that.” Simonetti said they drove for eight to 10 minutes.

He and his colleagues were yelling at the driver throughout, asking him to just slow down enough so that they could jump out of the car. The driver, he said, narrowly missed hitting other cars multiple times but insisted that if he stopped he would get a $2,000 fine. Remarkably, Simonetti says he'll continue to take Uber, but worries about driver background checks.

“The question is what the vetting process is for drivers?” he said. “As they get [bigger], how do you prevent stuff like that from happening? How do you screen crazy people out?”
The answer, as Pando readers know, that they often don't. As we've previously reported, until recently, Uber was not carrying out the background checks they claimed to be doing, and had cleared at least two convicted felons to drive. The company subsequently pledged to enhance their checks, although it remained unclear if the new checks are actually working.

It certainly seems like the company still has some work to do.

[illustration by Cam Floyd for Pando]