CEO of the ATIA Blair Davies has reminded passengers that UberX is illegal in many states, with safety measures they’ve come to expect in all taxis, nonexistent in ride-hailing vehicles.
“Australians looking to cut costs by using illegal ride-hailing services are recklessly cutting back on their own safety,” he said. “The lack of insurance and security devices in ride-hailing vehicles means they take a risk every time they get in a stranger’s private car.
“Frankly no amount of cost cutting is worth that risk.”
Mr Davies said that unlike taxis that have mandatory security cameras and hard-wired GPS devices fitted in all vehicles, ride-hailing vehicles have next to no security measures that can record or document events from the moment a passenger gets into the car.
“The smartphone app that is used for security in ride-hailing vehicles becomes completely ineffective if a driver or passenger turns the phone off,” explained Mr Davies.
Mr Davies said that the taxi industry sees its security systems as an essential although expensive investment and one that it would never consider cutting from its vehicles to reduce costs.
“That’s a key point of difference between the taxi industry and Uber,” he explained. “We view security cameras as an investment in driver and passenger safety whilst Uber clearly sees them as just an added cost.”
Lawful taxis are fitted with sophisticated security cameras, duress alarm systems and multiple GPS devices that are hardwired into the vehicle and cannot be disabled by the driver or an offender.
The security cameras take high quality images of passengers constantly, even in zero light conditions, and the images are protected in tamperproof black boxes and by sophisticated encryption so that the passenger’s privacy is protected.
If a passenger or driver misbehaves, police can access the images and audio to identify who should be prosecuted and lay charges. Security cameras also have the added benefit of protecting innocent parties from false accusations.
The ATIA has repeatedly called for Uber to put its money where its mouth is and invest some of its billions of dollars into making its vehicles safer for both drivers and passengers.
“Without comprehensive security measures in place, passengers are left vulnerable to a battle of ‘he said, she said’ should any misconduct occur, with the added blow that insurance providers are highly unlikely to approve claims made by drivers providing the illegal service,” Mr Davies said.