In November 2017, Uber driver John David Sanchez, 54, from San Diego was sentenced to 80 years in prison for sexually abusing teenagers and raping several female passengers. Sanchez's arrest came after one of his passengers passed out in his car and woke up to find him on top of her.
Upon his arrest and a police inspection of his personal computer, it was found that Sanchez had been recording sexual assaults over the course of at least five years. Sanchez was charged with 33 counts of sexual assaults and rapes, but he wasn't the only Uber attacker. In the past few years, 103 Uber drivers have been accused of sexual assault against passengers, and those are only the reported ones. To put an end to the disturbing phenomena, Uber has initiated a continuous background check on its drivers intended to keep passengers safe.
What Will the Background Check Do?
The background check on Uber drivers will help prevent or at the very least lower the risk of sexual assaults committed by them. Whenever a new driver joins the service, the company will run a background check to see if he or she has a criminal past.
Also, whenever a working Uber driver gets arrested, charged with a crime or commits any offense, they will be fired from the app. So far, the Uber background check seems to be working, and 25 drivers have been removed from the driving service following the discovery of their criminal past. Despite the Uber driver background check policy, the app's owners recommend using precaution when using the service.
How Can I Do that?
Whenever you get into a car with a stranger, whether it's someone you just met, a taxi driver or an Uber driver, you have to double up on the protection and not rely solely on others to it for you. How can you do that? By using these 6 safety tips you should apply continuously:
1. Sit in the back – limit contact with the driver and keep a safe distance from them
2. Don't ride alone at night – try to avoid riding with someone you don't know during the night time, especially if you've been drinking. Try to get a friend to come along with you for the ride whenever possible
3. Use the Share Status – if you do get on an Uber ride, send the driver's info to a friend by using the Share Status option (your friend doesn't have to install the app to see the info you sent him/her)
4. Don’t reveal too much – be kind to your driver, but not overly familiar. Also, don't give out details about where you are going and if the target address is your home or any other place you go to often
5. Run a background check of your own – if you want to run a background check on your own by using GoLookUp; you can find information about your driver before you ride with them
6. Trust your instincts - if something seems strange to you about the driver, don't hesitate about ending the ride sooner than you planned. If something goes wrong and you end up in an emergency, call 911 and alert your surrounding about what is going on in whatever way you can
Uber is a great peer-to-peer car service, and while most drivers are nice and professional as possible, there are those who are the exact opposite. Be careful when you get in an Uber ride or any ride with a person you don't know very well by using the precautions listed here and always be alert to what's going on doing the ride.