Uber will not leave Maryland

The Maryland Public Service Commission ruled that Uber and Lyft drivers will not be required to have fingerprint-based background checks. It means Uber will not be removing service in the state of Maryland as they threatened to do if they did not receive a waiver to the requirement. Taxicab drivers and other similar professionals are required to have fingerprint-based background checks.

As an occasional Uber driver, I was hoping the Maryland Public Service Commission wouldn’t cave to Uber’s threat.

Uber will not leave Maryland - Bent CornerAt the very least, Uber drivers should be required to have a fingerprint-based background check. I have no problem having my fingerprints used to verify that I’m not a dangerous criminal. I would welcome it. I’ve lived a crime-free life. I’ve never been arrested. I would like to use this fact as a way to set myself apart from the other independent contractors working with Uber. That’s what Uber drivers are, independent contractors.

I enjoy driving people for Uber. What I don’t like is waiting in between rides. As an Uber driver, you only get paid for the time a rider is in your car. You don’t get paid for the time you wait for Uber to send you a ride request. It’s monotonous and boring. If the pool of available drivers were whittled down because of more vigorous fingerprint-based background checks, it would mean more riders for me. Less qualified drivers would mean Uber would need to pay qualified drivers, people without a criminal record, more money.

I wish the Maryland Public Service Commission hadn’t caved to Uber’s threat.

Uber threatens to leave Maryland over background checks

Uber may not operate in the state of Maryland after December 22, two whole days before Christmas. The Maryland Public Service Commission is deciding if Uber and Lyft need to perform fingerprint-based background checks on drivers.

Uber said it would remove the service from Maryland if the state requires fingerprint-based background checks. Lyft hasn’t indicated that they would do the same. Lyft did point out that no other state requires fingerprint-based background checks.

Lyft doesn’t operate in Hagerstown. If the rule passes, I may have to complete my application with Lyft and commute to places in Maryland they operate. That’s even if I want to continue as a ridesharing driver.

My opinion on this is mixed. My fingerprints are already on file from being in the military. I have no problem with having my fingerprints taken again.

The state contends this type of security check is required to weed out dangerous sexual offenders and other violent criminals from becoming drivers. If Maryland knows there are dangerous, violent people in the community, why don’t they go and lock them up? These people are dangerous. These people are violent. These people were evidently released from prison even though they are dangerous. Are we supposed to believe they only pose a risk when they are behind the wheel of an Uber car?

I don’t think so.

If Uber is going to do more background checks, I’d prefer they do them on passengers. If someone is a dangerous sexual offender or a violent criminal, I don’t want them in the backseat of my car.  Uber has access to sex offender registries. It wouldn’t be all that hard to run checks on people using the passenger app against these lists.

Uber should strive to make their ridesharing service even safer than it currently is. They shouldn’t fight against increased security. If I were running Uber and the state wanted fingerprint-based background checks, I’d counter with not only fingerprint checks, but a DNA sample too. I provided a DNA sample when I registered to be a bone marrow donor, and it was super easy. They run a special q-tip on the inner cheek of your mouth. That’s it.