Uber shooting spree sparks debate regarding passenger safety

When someone requests a car service on their mobile phone they have the right to expect to reach their destination safely. The idea of entering a vehicle with a complete stranger and entrusting them with your well-being may stand as a deterrent to potential customers. When former Uber driver Jason Brian Dalton went on a shooting spree between rides in Kalamazoo, Michigan, his actions did little to ease that concern.

The shooting spree on Feb. 20 resulted in the deaths of six people and a 14-year-old girl was severely injured. Investigators believe Dalton, 45, was still seeking fares after the final shooting of a nearly seven-hour rampage, CNN reported. Dalton did not have a criminal background and had no clear motive for the shootings, Kalamazoo police said.

Uber has about one million drivers and serves more than 400 cities across six continents, according to the Washington Post. This raises the question of whether becoming an Uber driver involves a background check or if the company has any requirements to become a driver in the first place.

“It is easy just going on your phone and getting a cab without having to call anybody,” said Tymel Wilson, a business administration major. “I mean just because you had one bad apple doesn’t mean they are all bad.”

Many people agree with Wilson and believe that Uber is still safe. Uber is a $40 billion ride-hailing smartphone app and they are continuing to expand, according to Forbes. The company offers a quick and efficient way to hail a cab on your smartphone. With these kinds of numbers, you would expect that they have to be doing something right.

Uber drivers must have valid driver licenses and insurance protection and pass a background check, among other requirements, its website said. The security check includes items such as past DUI offenses, fatal accidents, reckless driving and criminal history, the site said. Drivers must also meet a code of conduct, the site said. The idea is to make sure passengers remain safe.

However, Abigail Kopf, the 14-year old girl who almost lost her life, would disagree. Doctors thought she would be brain dead after being attacked, NBC News reported.

Uber needs to make more of an effort to avoid hiring drivers who may put people’s lives in danger. They should also put in place more headquarters and office locations around the country so aspiring drivers can come in for a face-to-face interview before they are given the job.

To ensure that there won’t be future victims, Uber and rivals such as Lyft need to take more sophisticated measures when it comes to the process of hiring drivers. When safety and well-being are a primary concern, it is Uber’s responsibility not to take shortcuts

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