Lyft Driver Background Checks — Is Your Maryland Lyft Driver Safe?
Lyft and other rideshare services have been under intense scrutiny about their background check procedures for many years. Numerous reports and news stories have highlighted the inadequacies and blatant lack of due diligence that have resulted in numerous drivers being passed through the screening process who did not qualify as drivers under the rideshare company’s standards for background checks. Lyft was originally named in the same lawsuit as Uber related to background checks (Uber settled for millions of dollars). The lawsuit was filed in 2014 in California. Lyft settled the case for $250,000 and agreed to cease claiming that its background checks were “among the industry’s best.” What Does Lyft Say About Its Background Checks? According to the Lyft website, drivers must provide a social security number and submit to a background check as part of the application process. Lyft reviews the background checks, which include criminal background checks and driving records, and may disqualify an applicant who does not meet the company’s standards. Local and state jurisdictions may also have standards in addition to the standards used by Lyft. Violent crimes, sexual offenses, and some felonies, drug offenses, and theft offense may disqualify an applicant. Lyft states that it uses a third party company to conduct background checks. National, state, and county records may be checked for at least seven years or longer, depending on the jurisdiction. Lyft Announces It Is Strengthening Background Checks In response to the arrest of an undocumented worker on charges of rape, Lyft announced last summer that it would be strengthening its background checks. A man driving for Lyft in California was arrested and charged with raping four women. The man had submitted a fraudulent application that passed the company’s background check. Lyft said that the new “enhanced detection processes” would apply to new applicants and existing drivers. Lyft had not commented at the time on what “enhanced” measures would be taken to prevent things like this from occurring again. Lyft Is Not Required to Fingerprint Drivers In Maryland Various states and local jurisdictions have enacted regulations that modify the process that rideshare companies use to screen applicants. For example, a jurisdiction may require that fingerprinting is used in the background check, even though rideshare companies strongly argue that fingerprinting-based background checks are not as comprehensive and accurate as the commercial background checks used by the companies. The Maryland Public Service Commission agreed with Uber and Lyft’s arguments related to fingerprinting-based background checks. The PSC does not require Lyft or Uber to fingerprint its drivers. However, the PSC did add some additional requirements to the background checks for rideshare drivers in Maryland. For example, rideshare companies must conduct background checks on all drivers each year. The PSC may direct Lyft to review an applicant’s background check again if the PSC believes the criminal history should be reexamined. The PSC believes these and other safety provisions they approved are as comprehensive and accurate as the fingerprinting-based background check. Safety Tips for Lyft Passengers There may always be a risk when you get into a vehicle, whether it is a city bus, taxi, rideshare vehicle, or other public transit, with a complete stranger. However, there are ways you can reduce your risk of harm or injury as a Lyft passenger.
- Only schedule Lyft rides through the Lyft app
- Verify you are getting into the correct car by matching the driver’s picture, name, and license tag to the information in the app
- Notify a friend you are traveling by Lyft and provide your friend with the trip information
- Sit in the back seat whenever possible to give yourself additional personal space. Sitting in the back seat also allows you to exit from either door.
- If you are uncomfortable for any reason, end the ride as quickly as possible.
- Report any abusive, sexual, or prohibited behavior to the authorities and Lyft.
- Check the driver’s rating and reviews before scheduling a ride.
- Don’t overdrink and ride alone in any rideshare vehicle or taxi.
- Share your trip whenever possible with a friend, co-worker, or family member.
- Do not give out personal information, including your telephone number or other contact information.