Pando

Your regular monthly bulletin of ridesharing horror stories

An ongoing Pando series tracking crimes allegedly committed by -- or against -- ridesharing drivers.

By Nathaniel Mott , written on October 15, 2015

From The Lessons from the Trenches Desk

Last month, I said I’d be happy if I could take a break from writing these round-ups of all the serious allegations made against Uber drivers.

But no. I’m still not finding much, if anything, about drivers for other ridesharing companies.

It was always a longshot – preventing these crimes is all but impossible given the nature of Uber’s business, combined with its insufficient background checks. So let’s dive right back into a round-up of as many of the things I could find about Uber being bad and overcharging users for safety fees tacked onto every ride.

Uber drivers behaving badly

Many Uber (and Lyft) drivers violated Las Vegas rules by picking up passengers at the McCarran International Airport without the proper permits. A spokesperson told Insurance Journal that citations, which cost $100 unless they are paid within 10 days of being issued, were handed out to at least 87 ridesharing drivers in a single week back in September.

Allegations of sexual assault were a theme in Toronto last month. First, there was a woman in Toronto who said that her Uber driver sexually assaulted her after he was asked to drive her home. Police said at the time that it was the first such incident in the city. It turns out it wasn’t. Another woman came forward about a week later and said that her Uber driver sexually assaulted her in his car on the night of June 20. Uber removed both drivers from its platform.

Then there was a slight break in the flood of sex-related allegations when a Berkeley woman said an Uber driver stole her wallet when she fell asleep on the ride home from San Francisco. The driver, who wasn’t identified in a report on the incident, allegedly used the credit cards that night. And to add insult to injury, he or she is said to have overcharged the robbed passenger by $20.

Later, an Uber driver in India argued before a Delhi court that “there were several discrepancies in the prosecution case and the statements of the alleged victim” he was accused of raping. He also said that the prosecution manufactured or altered evidence to make its case against him. The driver was accused of raping a woman on her ride home on the night of December 7, 2014. The court has said it will make its judgment on the case on October 20.

On September 31, an off-duty Uber driver jumped a curb in the Bronx and struck a woman and four children while they waited for a school bus. All were treated for varying degrees of injury, and the Taxi & Limousine Commission has suspended the driver pending an investigation. He is said to have “lost control” of the vehicle before he drove on the sidewalk and hit the bystanders.

An Uber driver in London was accused of driving off while a woman was still trying to get inside his vehicle. The woman was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was treated for injuries to her leg and given a brain scan because she struck the sidewalk when she was thrown from the car. A report on the incident said that Uber was “investigating the matter” after the victim emailed the company.

Then Uber was sued by two women who say the service’s marketing is aimed at intoxicated women even though it can’t guarantee their safety once they book the ride. Both women have alleged sexual assault against Uber drivers. The first says that her driver groped her chest and forcibly kissed her before she was able to unlock the car’s door and escape. The second says an Uber driver offered to drive her and a male friend home from a bar; after the male friend was dropped off, the woman was taken to a remote parking lot where the driver “viciously raped” her.

Later, a woman in Washington, D.C., was sexually assaulted at knifepoint when she entered a car she thought belonged to an Uber driver. That has become increasingly common over the last few months, to a point where Chicago police have specifically warned residents not to enter cars that pull up next to them, claim to be working for Uber, then offer to give them a ride. Fusion says Uber isn’t to blame for these attacks, “dumb people are,” but I think it warrants inclusion.

Uber drivers as victims

First an Uber driver and his three passengers were robbed by two gunmen in New Jersey. The robbers are said to have gotten off with credit cards, cellphones, and cash from their victims. Apparently the driver thought a woman sitting on a porch was one of his customers; when he pulled into her driveway, though, the two gunmen showed up and forced him out of the car. They fled on foot.

The main story involving Uber drivers as victims involves assaults on several drivers in Brisbane, Australia. Three people were assaulted by taxi drivers who accused the drivers of “taking [their] business” before proceeding to attack them. All three Uber drivers had their vehicles damaged; two saw their phones attacked; and one was mistakenly targeted because he doesn’t drive for Uber. Uber said it feared the attacks were “a coordinated assault on its operations.”

Then a suspect in an armed robbery tried to use an Uber as a getaway vehicle. He was arrested; the driver was let go, as was a passenger thought to have nothing to do with the crime. Such are the downfalls of sharing an Uber with someone you don’t know. Instead of a date, you might end up hanging out with someone using the vehicle as an on-demand getaway service.