Ride-hailing services: How safe are you inside their car? - KCTV5

Ride-hailing services: How safe are you inside their car?

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When you get into a car, you expect the engine to run, the brakes to stop and the seatbelts to work. But when you hail a ride, who is making sure those cars are safe? (KCTV5) When you get into a car, you expect the engine to run, the brakes to stop and the seatbelts to work. But when you hail a ride, who is making sure those cars are safe? (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

When you get into a car, you expect the engine to run, the brakes to stop and the seatbelts to work. But when you hail a ride, who is making sure those cars are safe?

Ride-hailing companies have been controversial from the start. KCTV5 News investigated to find out if both the car and the driver are safe and exactly what it takes to drive for both Uber and Lyft.

“As you can see, it’s calling for me now,” said Uber driver Robert Henderson as he glanced at his phone on his dashboard.

KCTV5 spoke with several Uber drivers as they were waiting for passengers in Terminal C parking lot at the Kansas City International Airport. Henderson says he doesn’t just drive people around to pay the bills, he says it’s fun.

“I love people and I love to drive,” added Henderson.

Like thousands of other ride-hailing drivers, Henderson had to be cleared to drive. He says passing is simple.

KCTV5 looked into what regulations Uber and Lyft drivers and their cars go through before hitting the road.

We started with Uber, who operates in both Kansas and Missouri. Cars must be 2002 model year or newer and have no cosmetic damage.

Drivers visit one of three green light hubs, that inspect the car before it’s approved. Inspectors are Uber employees, listed online as “experts.”

We asked the company what they’re specifically looking for with their inspection, but Uber wouldn’t tell us. They would only say that they “comply with all current Kansas City regulations.”

Some drivers claim they’re anything but strict, which is not at all similar to the state inspection.

“Honestly with the vehicle inspection to be honest, they didn’t do all of that, maybe they should be doing that but honestly it’s like they are putting trust in you, that you are going to put the riders in a safe environment,” said Henderson.

Michael Burns, another Uber driver, chimed in that, “they just did a walk around and basically, just a walk around.”

Lyft can now operate on both sides of the state line. Their cars can’t be older than 2005 and a mechanic must do a 19-point inspection, which is very similar to what most Missouri drivers do every year.

We asked Tim Cooley , the owner of AMMCO of Lee’s Summit, if there was anything that stands out on the Lyft test that is different from the Missouri state inspection.

“No, not really, they are asking us to check out the same types of things.” Cooley replied. “[The] things they care about are the things that go into safety the most: tires, suspension, steering, horn, lights.”

When we asked him if he thought a Lyft car was a safe car, he said, “I would think so, yes.”

Lyft even says in a statement they sent to KCTV5 that “…drivers use their personal vehicles to drive on the platform-the same car they use in their daily lives, driving their kids to school or friends around town. drivers have a strong personal incentive to make sure their car is in a safe operating condition."

But who’s responsible for a wreck and what if you’re injured?

“Uber drivers are their own entity, there’s no corporate Uber entity standing behind them, and there’s not accountability," attorney Douglas Horn explains.

He stresses it's our responsibility to make sure we're getting in a safe car, with a safe driver.

A year ago a woman visiting Kansas City got into what she thought was her Uber, but it was a fake. The driver sexually assaulted her and dropped her off at a hotel. Dereje Gebremariam was arrested and charged with rape and kidnapping. 

“As an Uber rider, you want to make sure that you always ask who the ride is for,” said Henderson. “You also want to take a look or take a quick snapshot of the back of the car.”

As for the drivers, both Uber and Lyft say they do background checks, but a civil lawsuit claims an Uber driver with a criminal record attacked a woman in the car. Court documents say Yahkhahnahn Ammi was an approved driver, but had spent time in prison for attempted murder and was accused of assaulting a Saint Louis woman last year.

Uber says, “what’s reported in the complaint is deeply troubling and something we take extremely seriously. we are reviewing the litigation.”

Uber driver Henderson says he always makes sure his passengers know he’s legit and they feel safe in his car.

He says he tells his passengers to, “always ask because I have amenities.” Adding, “I had to actually create a sign that says who I am so that I could be identified.”

Now there are also ways to alert your family and friends of your location when you are driving with a rideshare company.

There are also apps like "Watch Over Me" that will track you on a GPS and alert someone if you veer off track.

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