The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women wants companies like Uber and Lyft to beef up their background checks on drivers. The group released a statement after two riders reported incidents of sexual assault by drivers.
“While we understand no background check process is perfect, we believe that utilizing the most rigorous screening methods available like fingerprinting or other identification measures for drivers is one important step to ensure passenger safety,” Katie Prisco-Buxbaum, a Mass NOW spokesperson, says in a statement.
In December 2014, a Boston Uber driver allegedly drove a female passenger to a remote location, then beat and sexually assaulted her. In February, another Uber driver was charged with sexually assaulting a rider. The company has faced similar incidents in cities around the world, as well as criticism that its background checks don’t do enough to prevent drivers with criminal histories or poor driving records from getting on the road.
Women’s activists are just the latest group to urge these companies to do more. City governments and even U.S. congressmen have urged the companies to use more reliable background check methods like fingerprinting. Uber said in a recent statement it is “taking steps to improve the process.” But it has traditionally resisted cities’ attempts to force more stringent background checks, perhaps because it stalls their expansion into new markets by limiting the speed with which it can get new drivers on the road.