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Update 4/6/17 9:18am: As the Boston Globe reports, of the some 71,000 Uber and Lyft drivers who recently underwent background checks in Massachusetts, more than 8,000 have failed.
For almost as long as ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft have been in existence, the debate over how stringent these companies’ background checks for potential drivers has been a hot-button topic. The media is regularly reporting on Uber- and Lyft-related crimes and there are now even dedicated websites, like Who’s Driving You, that track these incidents.
In September of last year, California passed a law to mandate stronger background checks for drivers in its state, and now it looks like The Bay State is following suit, initiating the process of performing comprehensive background checks on all Uber and Lyft drivers in Massachusetts late last week.
According to Boston.com, the San Francisco-based companies came to an agreement with the state, saying they would “perform multi-state commercial criminal and driving background checks for each driver operating in Massachusetts. The companies also will check drivers against the Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website.”
Additionally, the driving records of all employees will be checked twice a year — and any driver who does not pass the check will be barred from working for either company. The updated safety effort will be overseen by a new division of the Bay State’s Department of Public Utilities.
“This agreement will set a national standard for the most comprehensive state background checks for [ride-hailing company] drivers,” Governor Charlie Baker told Fortune back in November, when the agreement was first announced. Though it won’t be an easy task — Uber currently has more than 20,000 drivers operating in the state, while Lyft has several thousand of its own — those in charge expect the process to be completed by April.
While stronger safety measures are always a step in the right direction, not everyone thinks the new plan goes far enough — in particular, Massachusetts’ taxi drivers have complained that Uber and Lyft drivers are being held to a lower standard than they are. Last February, Boston began fingerprinting all of its taxi drivers, a measure that Uber later said it would not take. Despite a lawsuit from cab drivers against the city imploring that they all be held to the same standard, the case was dismissed in late-December.
Featured image courtesy of Uber.
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