When you get in an Uber, you have no way of knowing whose car you’re getting into. It could be anyone. Even a mass murderer.
It’s easy to jump on this horrible tragedy and make it Uber’s fault. Jason Dalton was obviously mentally ill before he started driving for Uber and went on his killing spree that left six dead and two critically injured. Plus, he’d only been doing Uber for a short while. His ratings weren’t even that good. And since he hadn’t been driving long, the recent price cuts couldn’t have possibly sent him over the edge.
Still, the fact remains: had Dalton been in a taxi, with all the associated identifying markings of a taxi, his wanton murders while picking up fares wouldn’t have lasted six to seven fucking hours before he was apprehended.
A taxi would have been easily identified and located almost immediately. Taxis are painted in bright colors, have top lights, phone numbers, cab numbers, permits and other easily identifiable markings that would have made it a cinch to find him after the first shooting occurred.
In San Francisco, taxis even have numbers on their hoods and roofs so they can be identified from air. Not to mention that drivers go to an office to pick up the keys to their cabs. They are vetted daily and their behavior is monitored by staff of the cab company as well as other drivers.
Cabs also have GPS trackers in them. Two-way radios. And there are always other taxi drivers on the streets who can be notified to look out for each other. It’s very difficult to drive a taxi under the radar.
Uber drivers, conversely, are lone wolves. They are only governed by the response of their passengers, which, in this case, didn’t work. Not even when passengers called 911.
People who think they’re safe in an Uber (or a Lyft) are fooling themselves.
At least Uber has finally admitted in court they are not as safe as cabs. Cause even though Dalton had a long history of driving violations, he passed Uber’s “industry-leading” background checks.
So now, when you get in an Uber, you are literally getting into a car with someone who could possibly be a mass murderer.
Sadly, I doubt this incident, or the many, many others, will stop most people from using Uber. Because… well, most people are stupid and lazy.
Photo by Trevor Johnson.