DETROIT - The company that puts everyday people in the driver's seat is dealing with a controversy that could affect your safety.
Uber is the new way to get around town. It's quick, easy and is all run through an app. Users simple punch in their pick up location and the closest Uber car is sent to pick them up. The app displays the driver's name, picture and what kind of vehicle they're driving. Accounts are linked to a credit or debit card, so there's never an exchange of cash.
Users can request a luxury car, an SUV, a "black car," or an UberX.
UberX, the company's lowest cost rides uses drivers in their own vehicle who are not required to have a chauffeurs license.
But whose behind the wheel?
UberX isn't required to follow some of the same rules as cab companies.
The Defenders did some research and found disturbing articles about a lack of in-depth background checks and vehicle inspections.
In Los Angeles, Beverly Locke, a reformed criminal still on probation for burglary and assault, put Uber to the test by applying. After filling out an online application, Locke was hired.
In San Francisco, Syad Mussafar was a driver who was arrested for hitting and killing a child on New Year's Eve. He also has a prior reckless driving conviction.
Uber says thousands of background checks have been done this year alone, and roughly 15 percent have been flagged and not offered opportunities to drive.
Here in Detroit, the Defenders hired UberX drivers and found that criminal convictions weren't the concern, but questionable driving records were.
There were drivers who had previously had their licenses suspended, been in a serious accident with injuries, had speeding tickets, cited for no proof of insurance or were driving vehicles that were registered to other people.
There can be concern if the driver isn't insured and there's an accident.
"The faux pas in this is if you're in a state that requires a license, as in the state of Michigan, operating a taxi service, you have to show that you do have proper coverage," legal expert Todd Flood said. "If you don't have proper coverage, there's some serious laws they're probably breaking."
Uber says drivers and passengers are covered by its $1 million commercial liability coverage, which is in excess of the driver's own personal policy.
What about training?
A Defender hidden camera recorded one driver saying this, "Because you use your own car, so it doesn't require any training."Take our poll on Uber
Full statement from Uber
What I can tell you is that Uber takes passenger safety very seriously. We work every day to connect riders with the safest rides on the road and go above and beyond local requirements in every city we operate.
Uber only partners with drivers who pass an industry-leading screening that includes a criminal background check at the county, federal and multi-state level going back as far as the law allows. We also conduct ongoing reviews of drivers' motor vehicle records during their time as an Uber partner.
Additionally, Uber only partners with drivers that are specifically covered on the insurance policy for the vehicle in which they operate.
For more information on what makes Uber the safest rides on the road, please see our website:https://www.uber.com/safety
Lauren Altmin, Uber Technologies, Inc
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