Uber drivers would require professional qualifications under new bills
Uber, an app that connects taxi, private car or rideshare drivers to passengers, could face stricter standards in Michigan. Two bills have been introduced to the Senate that would redefine Uber and its standards of operation in Michigan.
Senate Bill No. 184, introduced by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, would redefine Uber as a “transportation network company” which uses a digital network (the Uber app) to connect riders to drivers.
Uber vehicles and drivers would be held to the same safety inspection and insurance standards as a limousine. Uber drivers are already covered by a $1 million insurance policy.
Sen. Jones has contacted Uber to stop all business immediately, and any driver still conducting rides could be fined up to $500.
“I’m trying to save Uber for everyone,” Jones said, “There is no sense to continue doing business this way, when a little bit of licensing, a sticker in the window, can change that.”
The bill, introduced by Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, defines what type of insurance a transportation network company’s vehicle would have to carry. Drivers would have to maintain a chauffeur’s license, a commercial vehicle plate and display prominent signage while engaged in business.
Bill No. 188 also states that all transportation network company drivers must pass local, state and federal background checks, which Uber already follows, as well as a search of the national sex offender database.
The bill specifies that drivers must not have been convicted in the past seven years for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which could limit the number of potential drivers in college towns like East Lansing.
Jenna Jonjua, a general management senior, felt the changes would be more reassuring but values Uber’s current availability and worries that might lessen.
“They have a lot of cars out most of the time, and that accessibility, I think, would go down,” she said.
These regulatory proposals are not unique to Michigan, either. Uber has been fighting against similar legislation in a number of different states, including Florida and New Jersey, which are both pushing similar legislation through.
An Uber spokesman said in a statement that Uber is not a transportation company, but a technology company that created an app to connects drivers to passengers, and the new bills reflect a misunderstanding of their business model.
“Applying an antiquated regulatory framework to this new industry is a backward-looking approach and will stifle innovation and economic growth in Michigan,” the spokesman said.