Is Uber “uber” safe?


Per Bylund

An illustration picture shows the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign in Frankfurt, September 15, 2014. A Frankfurt high court will hold a hearing on a recent lawsuit brought against Uberpop by Taxi Deutschland on Tuesday. San Francisco-based Uber, which allows users to summon taxi-like services on their smartphones, offers two main services, Uber, its classic low-cost, limousine pick-up service, and Uberpop, a newer ride-sharing service, which connects private drivers to passengers – an established practice in Germany that nonetheless operates in a legal grey area of rules governing commercial transportation. The company has faced regulatory scrutiny and court injunctions from its early days, even as it has expanded rapidly into roughly 150 cities around the world. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (GERMANY – Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT CRIME LAW TRANSPORT)

On Feb. 20,  Uber driver Jason Brian Dalton was accused of shooting and killing six people while he was on duty as an Uber in Kalamazoo, Michigan, raising questions about the overall safety and reliability of the Uber company.

Even though the 45-year-old driver passed the background check before qualifying as an official driver, in addition to murder, according to CNN he violated multiple regulations and drove well over the speed limit. The shootings lasted for nearly seven hours while he was picking up and dropping off passengers throughout the city.

“You never actually talk to someone at Uber. You just have to apply online, and then they take a day or two to do a background check,” social studies teacher and Uber driver James Leckey said. “Every time the driver picks someone up, they run information in the computer. So if there was ever any altercation between the driver and the passenger, they have a record of who’s in your car at all times.”

According to author Anne Freier from Business Of Apps, over 60 countries and 300 cities are in the range of this driving service. Through the Uber smartphone application, customers can request an Uber ride and often receive an immediate response from a nearby driver.

“Personally, I haven’t been interested in taking an Uber. I feel like there isn’t enough confirmation on who the driver is and what they are like,” freshman Amber Cheser said. “Ever since the tragic incidents occurred, I think twice about using Uber to get around.”

Even though some students are in doubt of using the service, others still value its convenience.

“I use Uber quite often because it’s such a convenient ride and I feel like it’s not that bad in terms of safety,” junior Marianne Kim said. “Drivers are kind and if you go as a group, you don’t really have to worry about the safety.”

The company is exploring the possibility of adding a new alert system through the mobile application to prevent any threatening or dangerous situations.

“We introduced upgraded technology in-app, including an SOS button to immediately connect you with local authorities in the rare event of an emergency while on an Uber ride,” author Deval said on the Uber Newsroom website.