Uber Cars and Safety Issues

A recent investigation into vehicle recalls, and Uber drivers, performed by Channel 2 in Houston has shed light on a disturbing trend that could be national rather than local. Jennifer McGovern, a Houston based Uber driver decided it was mandatory for her to contact channel 2 after watching their report and provide some troubling information.

McGovern stated "There are other safety issues besides vehicle recalls. It's the condition of the vehicles that are picking up the passengers that may not be on a recall list, but there is visual damage done to the vehicle or mechanical damage." McGovern went on to add that in her opinion a lot of the general public does not understand what is at issue here. In light of the situation and with deep concern, McGovern started a Houston based blog she aptly calls "i-Uber Houston."

What she states to have seen are such safety violations including bald tires and cracked windshields which she receives via her Facebook page from passengers as well as other Uber drivers concerned with their image as well as the safety of their passengers. McGovern's most recent post was titled "A ride to Die."

Unlike Taxi companies that maintain a central mechanic and garage that deals with the state of the cars when off the road, Uber relies on its drivers to maintain their cars to the standards and requirements as set during the application period. However, cars are driven daily, and they do deteriorate, Uber does not have monthly car tests to review the state of the cars and as such, are reliant on the honesty and carefulness of their drivers.

McGovern stated that she is more than frustrated with the minimum ridesharing checks required for drivers. She says that "We need to have vehicle checks, vehicle maintenance checks." Another issue that has angered her is the lax requirement that Uber has now allowed in the State of Texas, where 15-year-old cars can be used as rideshare vehicles. This allows potential drivers to seek out 100,000km cars that are so cheap, enabling them to drive Uber with a minimum car cost at the expense of the passenger's comfort and safety.

McGovern continued to question Uber's incentives and stated that "I don't see how drivers if they do Uber full time, keep up with the maintenance on the cars." Maintenance is a major issue for full-time driving, and unlike a family car, these vehicles require periodic checking, which is usually once a week for basic maintenance issues such as tires, oil, brakes, etc. and once a month for a full check.

When Channel 2 asked Uber about this issue, Uber replied "We follow all state and local laws. Additionally, we provide resources and encourage partners to check their vehicles for any recalls as well as have routine maintenance done on their cars."

Yeah. People want cheap rides. But they want drivers to eat the cost of 1000$ background checks and all this other stuff. It’s already a barely break even proposition. Either we do away with ride sharing, prices go to taxi levels, or people accept economic reality.