We, the New Jersey Taxi Cab Association, are writing you to provide clarity to an illegal activity that has been occurring in New Jersey for far too long. This illegal activity puts the safety and financial security of the residents of New Jersey on the line and yet most people are not aware of it.
The illegal activity that we are referring to are the operations of so-called “Transportation Network Companies” such as Uber and Lyft.
While there are thousands of active users of Uber and Lyft in New Jersey, most of these passengers are unaware of the dangers involved in riding with these companies and that Uber and similar companies knowingly operate illegally. The key issue passengers need to be aware of is that Uber and Lyft refuse to do adequate background checks on their drivers. Specifically, Uber and Lyft refuse to use fingerprint background checks on their drivers. In New Jersey, if you want to be a taxi or limousine driver, you must submit to a thorough and comprehensive fingerprint background check. This requirement is to ensure that the driver is properly screened which improves passenger safety.
Sadly, across the country and around the world there are stories after stories of drivers who have passed Uber’s background check only to commit a violent crime against an unsuspecting passenger. Most of these drivers would have been denied a license had Uber actually required a thorough fingerprint background check. Passengers in New Jersey have fallen victim to these types of crimes and we deserve better.
In addition to the failure to properly screen their drivers, Uber fails to inform their passengers that if an accident were to occur, they may be out of luck. As it stands today, most drivers do not have the proper insurance to operate their vehicles while they operating on behalf of Uber. These drivers have personal auto insurance, not commercial. That’s a significant distinction. If there were a serious accident and a passenger suffered significant injuries, that person will more than likely be on their own. The driver’s insurance company will not pay for the injuries since the driver was operating illegally as a commercial driver when their coverage only provides for personal use.
Uber has a history of walking away from these cases, leaving the driver and passenger out to dry. For them, it’s just a revenue game and there will always be another driver and another passenger to replace them. This callousness must end and the safety of the passengers must be made a priority. The New Jersey Taxi Cab Association is working today to move legislation forward (A-3765 and S-2742) that would require that Uber and others do the proper background checks and provide the proper insurance.
Some believe that taxi cab companies are trying to get rid of Uber. That is simply not the case. Uber and Lyft have brought an innovative business model to the table and they should be recognized for that. But this innovation should not be to the detriment of the passenger. Through the passage of common sense legislation that would allow for safeguards for passengers, Uber and others will be free to operate and compete in New Jersey instead of their current illegal practice that puts the public at risk.
Murray Rosenberg, President
New Jersey Tax Cab Association