If you haven’t heard already, Uber, an app-based transportation network that provides a private taxi service from everyday car owners which was started in San Francisco, California and quickly spread worldwide is receiving severe backlash from their response to the rape allegation of a rider who said that a driver sexually assaulted her during her late-night ride home in New Delhi, India. Since the uproar, several Indian regions along with a few Asian countries like Thailand have quickly banned Uber and its rival Lyft from operating in their cities because it claims that Uber and other car services like them are not investigating their drivers with enough scrutiny to be able to operate and pick up riders.
Other companies were aware of the complicity before the recent controversy. The ride-sharing service BlahBlahCar which happens to be popular in Europe and was started by the co-founder of Zipcar in the U.S. is circumventing the challenge of women riding with strangers by allowing female clients the choice to ride with female drivers. But sadly, even with the model of choice, it is only a matter of time before BlahBlahCar and other services find themselves in the same predicament as Uber and Lyft, who has also started a ride-sharing service along with their taxi app service.
The only way that Uber and other companies can rehabilitate their image as a safe and reasonable way to travel without having to wait for India and other countries to regulate the safety of these companies is to offer rides where the interaction between the driver and rider is recorded on video and uploaded to the companies server to provide evidence of a safe ride. Recording devices like BlackVue vehicle system that can record video inside and outside of a vehicle even if the car is parked with the ignition turned off.
With such devices like the BlackVue, the driver can instantly upload the video of the ride to a company server using the included phone app that is wirelessly connected to the system by the built-in BlackVue WiFi. If the driver feels that the rider was particularly irate then he can upload the video to a YouTube account and ask others as well as the police to rate the ride for them. Companies who choose to use drivers with onboard vehicle cameras will have to come up with their own guidelines to protect not only the rider or driver but the company from lawsuits if the video is used or uploaded outside of the perimeters of intended use. If the video is uploaded to the company’s server then the rider should also have access to the video if they feel they will need it for further review.
This may have additional benefits of making services like Uber and Lyft more attractive to riders who are expecting a professional and safe ride and would appreciate a company that will allow them the choice of a recorded or non-recorded ride. Is there precedence for recorded rides? In some countries, Yes. Eastern European and South American countries have been recording their taxi rides for years. Russians are famous for not only recording taxi rides but also using onboard vehicle recorders in their personal cars since insurance fraud caused by nefarious pedestrians and other drivers are hard to fight in court without video proof. In fact, BlahBlahCar just bought out one of their rivals in Russia that happens to have drivers who already use onboard video recorders during their shared trips.