For rideshare companies, the issue of trust is paramount; if riders don’t trust the drivers are safe, they simply won’t ride. But “safe” is a subjective measure. What exactly constitutes “safe” rideshare? Is safety purely about a clean and clear employee driving history, or should past criminal behavior also be considered? Will riders still ride if they know their driver was convicted of a crime? What if that crime was more than seven years ago?
As oversight and regulation of the gig economy evolve, so do questions surrounding rideshare background checks and how to make them work for businesses that rely on speed and efficiency to stay in business.
Current Background Check Policies
Background check policies can vary from company to company and by jurisdiction, including state and municipality. While background check services are varied, motor vehicle reports and criminal background checks are the most relevant to rideshares. Let’s take a closer look at how rideshare organizations typically use background screening services.
Motor Vehicle Reports
A motor vehicle report is information about individual drivers from each state’s department of motor vehicles. Accurate retrieves information from DMVs to compile three- to seven-year driving histories so rideshares can be certain that they’re only putting safe and responsible drivers behind the wheel. The following are examples of driving-related information that rideshares consider:
- Drivers must have a valid driver’s license.
- Drivers are required to meet a minimum time requirement for licensed driving experience in the U.S. For example, some providers require a minimum of 3 years if the driver is under 23 years old while others simply ask for one year of driving experience.
- Drivers must have an active license that’s free from disqualifying restrictions.
- Driving records must be free from major violations and a recent history of minor violations may result in disqualification. Examples of disqualifiers may include the following:
- Four+ minor moving violations in the past three years
- One major moving violation in the past three years
- A DUI or other drug-related driving violation in the past
- A serious driving-related conviction in the past
Some rideshare firms also indicate that they conduct continuous monitoring or periodic rescreens on their drivers’ records to ensure that records remain clear of any potentially disqualifying violations.
Criminal Background Checks
Because passenger safety is a critical concern, criminal screening is used by rideshares to reveal potentially disqualifying behaviors in drivers. That said, one of the values of rideshare and other gig economy jobs is that they provide earning opportunities for individuals who might be excluded from more traditional jobs. Folks with criminal records fall squarely into this category. Rideshare companies are navigating a complex line between offering earning potential to a broad range of drivers while protecting their passengers and building a reputation of trust. Again, while there are no set standards in this area and rideshare companies’ policies are continuing to evolve, many states and jurisdictions have their own standards.
At the moment, different rideshare providers have different guidelines for what constitutes disqualifying criminal behavior. Examples of these different approaches include the following:
- Some crimes are listed as disqualifying regardless of when they were committed, including murder, sexual assault, carjacking, robbery, human trafficking, and terrorism.
- Convictions and pending charges for felonies, violent crimes, and sex offenses are considered by some to be disqualifying.
- DUIs, drug offenses, and some theft or property damage convictions committed within the past seven years may be listed as disqualifying.
Several rideshare firms also have a policy of rerunning background checks annually for all drivers and state that up-to-date checks are required to remain on the platform.
The Role of Technology in Rideshare Background Checks
The gig economy moves fast, and speed is essential for both businesses and their drivers. Drivers want the ability to sign up to drive and get out on the road earning quickly and rideshare platforms want the ability to onboard safe drivers efficiently with minimum hassle and minimum expense. Neither side wants to jump through unnecessary hoops or slow down to wait for background check results. And yet background screenings are also genuinely essential for both sides. This is a business model that depends upon strangers getting into each other’s cars. Without solid technology, background checks for rideshare drivers are simply not feasible.
Luckily, advancements in screening techniques and interface technologies have made conducting background screenings fast and flexible, which is good news for the sharing economy. Accurate offers an API that seamlessly integrates with any platform, delivering a smooth, automated screening process to Web and mobile applications. Drivers can enter personal information from their own phone directly into the rideshare company’s app. Our API uses that info to search court records, motor vehicle reports, employment records, social security records, and more. Results can be delivered to the rideshare and the driver via the same interface along with fully compliant consent forms and other reports. There’s no need for multiple data entry points, redundant systems, or complicated forms. One driver, one mobile device, and one sophisticated API can do the trick.
Accurate’s sharing economy solution is:
- Good for the rideshare companies because it’s flexible, reliable, and affordable
- Good for the drivers because it’s quick and easy
- Good for the consumer because it provides an important layer of safety
The Bottom Line
Major rideshare companies are taking safety and security seriously and their approaches have much in common. One common thread is that rideshare platforms use accredited third-party screening agencies to run their background checks, which means the information they obtain is thorough and reliable, and in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.
The bottom line today really is this: are rideshare passengers safe? Rideshare providers are exercising reasonable safety precautions when screening potential drivers. Third-party background checks providers such as Accurate provide effective gig economy background screening solutions designed to be fast and flexible while keeping consumers safe.