Driving service is not Uber safe
JOAN O’LEARY | ASST. OPINION EDITOR
For many Toreros, the phone application Uber has become the superior alternative to taxi services. The app is easy to download on any smartphone, much cheaper than a taxi, and students can get a ride anywhere, at any time. Whether it is a freshman without a car trying to get around the San Diego area, or a group of friends leaving Mission Beach on a Saturday night, many University of San Diego students consistently choose to use Uber.
Uber has grown rapidly since its creation almost seven years ago. Currently it has cars driving in 204 cities in 45 countries around the world. Uber even claims to cover 55 percent of the U.S. population with its ride-sharing services.
Recently, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding how Uber hires their drivers and how safe the service actually is. Many feel that the company’s background checks are not thorough enough.
The 39-year-old CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, who has led the company for seven years now, claims that his company always puts safety first.
“Safety is No. 1 at Uber…so we make sure the system is in place so riders get the safest ride possible,” Kalanick said. “With that said, Uber is in the limelight. When things happen, if there’s claims of any kind in any city in any car, we take those claims very seriously.”
According to reports, there have been over a dozen cases of assaults by Uber drivers in the last few years. Just last year, an Uber driver by the name of Alejandro Done, was sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison for the aggravated rape of his Uber passenger. Before this incident, Done had been charged with five unsolved sexual assaults between 2006 and 2010. However, according to Uber, Done had passed through their background check procedure.
This case was not a freak occurrence; there have been numerous accounts of Uber drivers attacking and assaulting their passengers. Another case includes a sixth grade teacher in North Carolina who worked as a part time Uber driver who raped a 23-year-old passenger.
In 2014 prosecutors in California filed a complaint against the alternative taxi service for failing to give thorough enough backgrounds. According to CNET, regulations for taxi companies are more accountable for instances similar to the ones described above than companies like Uber. Many states in the U.S. are now requiring that Uber demands better and more in-depth background checks for their drivers.
Uber defends their service sharing how their company provides safe rides for those under the influence.
“In almost every city that we operate, our rush hour is when bars close,” Uber’s website stated. “By providing a reliable ride at the tap of a button, we’re empowering people to leave the keys at home and make the safe choice at the end of the night”.
This is one of key reasons Uber is popular among the college crowd. No matter where you are, or what time you need a ride, you will always be able to find an Uber.
Junior Alexis Dachs shares how she believes the convenience of Uber trumps the potential risks of an unsafe driver.
“Uber is more convenient because it’s right on your phone,” Dachs said. “No matter where I am I can always call an Uber to come get me. It takes the stress out of planning a night out.”
Although there is a strong argument for why Uber is unsafe, many college students would disagree. If someone gets separated from their crowd or caught in an unfortunate situation where they may not have someone to go home with, an Uber is just a click away.Being under the influence of alcohol and alone is a scary experience and situation to be in. Uber’s quick and direct location service solves this the problem of potentially being stuck in a tricky situation.
If you choose to call a taxi, you may have to wait 20 to 30 minutes for it to arrive, whereas a typical Uber would arrive in about half that time, maybe less. In Philadelphia, 91 percent of all UberX rides since October 2014 arrived in less than 10 minutes.
Uber also allows students to split fares amongst their friends making it cheap and easy to share rides with large groups when needed. This convenience makes choosing Uber a no-brainer for college students looking for a cheap ride.
Sophomore Connor Scott shares how the timeliness of Uber actually makes her feel safe in the event of a sticky situation.
“Uber is awesome,” Scott said. “I’ve never had to wait more than five or 10 minutes for my Uber to arrive. It’s really nice to know that if I was ever in a situation where I needed to leave quickly, I could count on Uber.”
While choosing Uber runs the risk of having an unsafe driver, students may face that same risk taking a cab.
The convenience, pricing, and timeliness of Uber trumps the potential risk of an unsafe driver in the situation of most college students. The amount of benefits that stem from the application outweigh the smaller chance of potential risks.