Reg­u­la­tors adopt new safety rules for Uber, Lyft

The Mercury News Weekend - - LOCAL NEWS - By Olga R. Ro­driguez

SAN FRAN­CISCO » Cal­i­for­nia reg­u­la­tors on Thurs­day adopted new safety rules for ride- hail­ing com­pa­nies Uber and Lyft that will not re­quire their driv­ers be fin­ger­printed as part of back­ground checks, re­ject­ing a push by the taxi in­dus­try.

The Cal­i­for­nia Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion in a meet­ing in San Fran­cisco unan­i­mously voted to ap­prove the safety reg­u­la­tions it pro­posed last month af­ter a year- long re­view spear­headed by the taxi in­dus­try.

Dave Sut­ton, a spokesman for a group that rep­re­sents the Taxi­cab, Li­mou­sine & Para­tran­sit As- so­ciat ion, cal led the de­ci­sion “a mis­take.”

“The CPUC has made a mis­take that may come back to haunt Cal­i­for­nia riders,” Sut­ton said.

It is gen­er­ally up to lo­cal gov­ern­ments to con­duct back­ground checks on taxi driv­ers and those checks of­ten in­clude fin­ger­print­ing them. In Cal­i­for­nia, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Fran­cisco all re­quire taxi driv­ers to be fin­ger­printed, Sut­ton said.

He said that when a taxi driver is fin­ger­printed, those prints are re­viewed by lo­cal law en­force­ment and the FBI.

“Law en­force­ment and ex­perts agree that fin­ger­prints- based back­ground checks are far su­pe­rior in terms of pro­tect­ing pas­sen­gers,” he added.

But the CPUC dis­agreed, say­ing fin­ger­print­ing doesn’t in­sure more safety to riders.

“Al­though we rec­og­nize the pub­lic’s fa­mil­iar­ity with fin­ger­print­ing, we do not see that a demon­stra­tively greater level of safety would be added over and above the cur­rent back­ground- check pro­to­cols,” Com­mis­sioner Liane Ran­dolph wrote.

The reg­u­la­tions, first an­nounced Oct. 4, will re­quire the ride- hai ling com­pa­nies to con­duct an­nual screen­ings of driv­ers and that they use third- party agen­cies that are na­tion­ally ac­cred­ited to run back­ground checks.

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