Innovation has the potential to make our lives and communities better. But the rapid pace of change, however beneficial, also brings new and unforeseen challenges, among them how to ensure that ease and convenience do not come at the expense of safety. This tension is not merely theoretical; it has taken shape in Arizona and in over 270 cities around the globe, where ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have grown in popularity.
The idea behind ridesharing is simple: everyday people leveraging the power of technology and their own personal vehicles to deliver rides to friends and fellow members of their community at the tap of the button. Riders benefit from the availability of safe, reliable rides; drivers benefit from increased opportunity and the ability to earn income on their own terms.
These companies also go to great lengths to ensure the safety of riders, drivers and the public. Every person who partners with a ridesharing service like Uber and Lyft must complete an extensive criminal background check. In fact, in the case of Uber, these checks are so rigorous that the consulting firm of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani concluded that Uber’s background check process “represents a substantial improvement over existing safety standards in the personal hire transportation world”.
But safety is also about peace of mind, which is why every trip with ridesharing platforms like Uber is covered by end-to-end ridesharing insurance with coverage up to $1 million per incident for liability, uninsured and underinsured motorist from pickup to drop off for every ridesharing trip. This goes above and beyond what most jurisdictions require and what most taxis currently provide, and it takes into account that ridesharing is a different service that involves individuals using their personal vehicles to drive as much or as little as they choose.
Ridesharing is both reliable and safe, evidenced not only by the steps and checks outlined here, but also by the thousands of Arizonans who choose Uber and Lyft to get around town safely, reliably and affordably every day. We owe it to Arizonans to craft regulations that recognize the innovative nature of ridesharing and enshrine the various safety measures Uber and Lyft are taking to ensure consumer safety into law.
A clear-eyed look at the facts also reveals that more transportation options like Uber and Lyft are needed in places like Arizona, where drunk-driving rates exceed the rest of the nation and where residents must travel long distances to get from place to place. Governor Ducey and Weights and Measures Director Andy Tobin made the right call in embracing ridesharing as a safe and viable transportation option in Arizona, and leaders from across the state would be wise to follow their lead with regulations that prioritize consumer safety and consumer choice.
People in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and other cities are already requesting rides with ridesharing services and enjoying the benefits. Uber and Lyft are doing their part to ensure that these rides are not only reliable, but meeting the highest standard for safety as well. Arizonans deserve nothing less, and that is exactly what we should aim to deliver.
– Republican Sen. Kelli Ward is the chairwoman of the state Senate Education Committee and has been a vocal proponent of ridesharing services.