Last month in serious ridesharing allegations (November)
Maryland wants ride-hailing companies to fingerprint their drivers.
This rule is scheduled to go into effect on December 15, and both Uber and Lyft went to court in November to argue that they shouldn’t have to run more vigorous background checks on people using their platforms. Uber — as its wont — threw a tantrum and threatened to leave the state if the requirement is enforced. Lyft said only that New York is the only market in which it operates that requires fingerprinting.
Now, why on Earth would regulators want to make their platforms safer? It’s a mystery to everyone. On a completely unrelated note, here’s the latest batch of ride-hailing wrongdoings.
Drivers behaving badly
New Orleans police announced December 1 that they are seeking a suspect of a November 17 kidnapping. The woman — along with three others — was accused of masquerading as an Uber driver to lure their victim into their vehicle. The kidnapped woman was then forced to withdraw money from ATMs, hand over her Social Security Card, and purchase items for her kidnappers.
A 28-year-old Uber driver identified only as Jinshi was arrested after he was accused of “asking vulgar questions” of a female passenger on November 27. Jinshi was arrested by the Hill Palace police and charged with “outraging the modesty of a woman” as a result of the incident.
That same day, an Uber driver in New Zealand allegedly took two female passengers on a roundabout route to their destination in an effort to charge them more for the trip. When one cancelled the ride he is said to have gotten angry, yelled at them, and thrown them both out next to an abandoned reservoir in the middle of the night. They were refunded for the trip.
Another female passenger, Frances Stern, told PIX11 that an Uber driver in the Upper East Side kidnapped her in early November. (The exact date was not provided.) The driver was accused of ignoring the woman’s repeated questions about why he wasn’t driving to her destination, even when she was on the phone with police, to a point where she jumped out of the vehicle when it stopped at a traffic light. Uber said that the driver has been removed from its platform.
A taxi driver said that someone he believed to be an Uber driver hit him, his vehicle, and another taxi on November 26. The incident occurred after the taxi driver noticed that an Uber could be hailed on Fort Benning, where the ride-hailing company is not allowed to operate, and confronted the female driver. She then hit him and the vehicles before going to the fort’s military police.
Also on November 26 an Uber driver in Australia was accused of purchasing alcohol for a 15-year-old. (The drinking age in Australia is 17.) The teen was said to be heading to a party with his friend. He asked the Uber driver taking them there to buy some alcohol; the driver agreed to do so in exchange for an extra $10. Uber didn’t say whether the driver would be suspended.
Police in Ross Township, Pennsylvania said November 23 that they were investigating an incident when a female passenger said she had to push an Uber driver off of her. The driver was accused of making sexual advances during the ride before making “very limited” physical contact with the woman. Uber said the driver was temporarily banned from its platform during the investigation.
On November 20, students at UC Davis said their Uber driver “made comments about kidnapping them.” The two female students called police after they were dropped off at their destination. Uber is said to be aware of the issue, but when the Sacramento Bee contacted the company, nobody was available to comment.
Finally, on November 16, a man posing as an Uber driver was accused of sexually assaulting another man in San Diego. Police caught the man, who reportedly refused to take a field sobriety test, and then charged him with sexual assault for “reach[ing] over and grabb[ing] the male passenger's genitalia.” The man does not appear to have any real affiliation with Uber.
People harassing drivers
Taxi drivers in Kerala, India attacked an Uber driver on December 1. The group is also said to have stopped the driver’s would-be passenger and demanded that she take a pre-paid trip in a taxi instead of using the ride-hailing service. The altercation is said to have listed for 1.5 hours; the passenger filed a complaint with the City Police Commissioner and shared a video of the fight.
An Uber driver in Georgia was shot at on the same day. The shooter — Boynton Starrett — didn’t appear to be aiming at the Uber driver. Instead, he was said to be shooting at his girlfriend, who had taken the Uber to Starrett’s house only to find that he was with another woman inside. Nobody was injured in the shooting, but the back window of the driver’s vehicle was shattered.
On November 29, a Lincoln, Nebraska man was charged with a hate crime against an Uber driver for “using racist remarks” and hitting him in “the head and neck until he lost consciousness” on October 3. The assailant, James Danahay, failed to appear in court for the hate crime charge and could be sentenced to up to two years in prison if he’s convicted.
Another Uber driver was attacked November 27 in Ballito, South Africa. The driver was apparently giving a couple a ride home when taxi drivers started banging on his door and demanding to know if he was driving for Uber. He said no, but eight men dragged him from the car and beat him anyway. The passengers escaped by jumping the fence to a friend’s home.
Jonathan Neidlinger from Western Springs, Illinois was charged with battery on November 22. Neidlinger was accused of punching an Uber driver in September; he was identified when police “used Uber subscriber information and tracked down receipts of the suspect from the location where he was picked up.” The driver apparently didn’t suffer any serious injuries from the attack.
On November 21, a Muslim Uber driver in New York took a video of a man shouting racial slurs, profanities, and other insults while the two were at a stop light. The man was recorded as saying that the Uber driver would be deported because Donald Trump will soon be president. (He also said many of the other things one might expect from a sexpot despot’s political supporters.)
A man from Glendale, California was arrested for suspicion of sexually assaulting a female Uber driver on November 19. The man, Sevada Bandari, allegedly “groped the victim multiple times over her clothing” over the course of the trip. He’s scheduled to appear in court on January 5.
Finally, on November 19, former Taco Bell exec Benjamin Allen Golden was sentenced to 60 days in jail for his October assault on an Uber driver. A dashboard camera recorded the incident, which was promptly shared online. Golden pled guilty to misdemeanor battery and was also sentenced to three years of informal probation.