With all the money it has in the bank, Uber can afford to stop using the cheapest possible methods to screen its drivers.
Uber Technologies Inc. said it began an assessment of its safety programs amid mounting questions about its driver-screening process.
The San Francisco-based mobile car-booking company named former Amazon.com Inc. executive Tim Collins to lead global support, according to a blog post today by Philip Cardenas, Uber’s head of global safety. The review, started in November, will determine where greater investment in safety is required, including possible improvements in technology, background checks and incident-response teams to offer support, Uber said.
The startup has faced criticism over the safety of its rides. Earlier this month, the company had to grapple with allegations that one of its drivers raped a woman in New Delhi. An Uber driver was also charged in San Francisco this month for killing a six-year-old girl crossing a city street last New Year’s Eve. Critics have questioned whether safety is an Achilles’ heel for Uber.
“We are reminded by the recent tragic event in India that best-in-class safety must be a constant quest,” Cardenas wrote. “We owe it to all our riders, driver partners and communities around the world to examine what we can do better and then do everything we can to make more progress on safety.”
Uber is the most highly valued U.S. technology startup. The company raised $1.2 billion earlier this month at a valuation of $40 billion. Today, Chinese Web company Baidu Inc. said it had invested in the mobile car-booking company, which is led by Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick.
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Photo credit: Transportation app Uber is seen on the iPhone of a limousine driver in Beverly Hills, California. Lucy Nicholson / Reuters