Is Your Rideshare Driver a Rapist? NJ Proposal Aims to Oust Predators
Last month, a Mercer County Uber driver was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman after picking her up at a Trenton nightclub and driving her home.
A lawmaker is now pushing a plan aimed at protecting people who use rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft from sex predators.
Legislation introduced by Assemblyman Dan Benson, D-Mercer, the chair of the Assembly Transportation committee, would require more stringent reporting by people applying to work as drivers.
It would also mandate better information sharing between the companies themselves.
The bill stipulates that during the application process, job candidates would be required to disclose whether they have any prior rideshare company experience and whether they had been the subject of a sexual misconduct investigation while working for that company.
The measure would also require transportation network companies to notify other such companies in New Jersey if any of their drivers had been accused of sexual misconduct.
Benson said his measure would make it harder for these assailants to stay undetected and continue harassing and attacking victims.
“They’re investigated in one company, so they leave the company and go work for another one, wait a couple of years and do the same thing again," he said.
A recent report from Uber found close to 6,000 complaints in 2017 and 2018. Benson noted that Lyft has not reported the same kind of information so far, and there are dozens of pending lawsuits stemming from these types of incidents.
Benson said having these kinds of requirements in place for ridesharing companies is important.
“Some of it seems like common sense but clearly in some of these incidents, had they done that, these drivers would have never made it into their system.”
Last year, Benson sponsored legislation known as Sami’s Law, named for Samantha Josephson, a Robbinsville woman studying at the University of South Carolina who was killed after she mistakenly got into a car she thought was her Uber.
The measure, signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy, requires ride-sharing services to identify their vehicles with signs and have drivers carry ID cards with barcodes.
“Rideshare companies, I think, are here to stay," Benson said. "I think it’s going to be part of our transportation economy. People are using them, particularly younger people, at increasing rates.”