Rideshare Rules and Regulations in Kansas City
Posted in Lawsuit on May 23, 2017
Uber and Lyft offer great alternatives to taxi services in many metropolitan areas. Rates are cheaper, rides are available in minutes, and the app makes it easy to request a ride. Last month, Missouri governor Eric Greitens signed into law statewide regulations for these types of companies who say that the new laws will help them expand and provide services throughout the state.
The new bill requires app-based rideshare companies doing business in the city to pay a $5,000 licensing fee in addition to conducting more stringent driver background checks and vehicle inspections. The bill also provides certain criteria for who can be a driver and requires them to buy vehicle liability insurance. In addition to these new rules, these companies are exempt from paying local taxes, which is a major catalyst for these companies to grow and create more jobs in the area. It has even prompted Lyft to return back to Kansas City, which pulled its services in 2014.
Uber and Lyft Driver Safety
One of the biggest complaints against Uber and Lyft has been these companies’ hiring procedures. Uber and Lyft check prospective drivers’ backgrounds and driving records only as far back as the prior seven years. This meant that drivers with criminal histories longer than seven years ago can become drivers in most cities. As of November 2016, Uber even allows some non-violent felons to become drivers. These rather loose hiring rules have made many passengers wonder about the safety of getting into vehicles with rideshare drivers.
Prior to this new legislation, Kansas City required fingerprint-based FBI criminal background checks on all drivers. However, this additional measure provided red tape that prevented most casual drivers, who only drive a few hours a week, from signing up and using the service. As stated above, the new legislation tries to find a balance between safety and ease of use by enacting statewide ridesharing regulations, including a $5,000 licensing fee, vehicle inspections, and who can be a driver based on driving records to address the issue of driver records. Kansas City and St. Louis can also conduct biannual audits on Uber and Lyft driver background records to ensure that no bad drivers have slipped through the cracks.
What the New Rules Mean for You
The new statewide rules aim to find a middle ground between regulation and freedom to allow these companies to expand and drivers to find work. There is no longer an FBI background check requirement, so drivers who meet the companies’ own seven-year rules can now become drivers. However, these companies do have their own screening procedures and the change in laws encourage drivers to sign up. Lyft may potentially even return to the city and provide competition for Uber, thus driving prices down and making rides more available for everyone.
Nevertheless, the possibility for getting in an accident is always a possibility when on the road. If you are in any type of car accident as an Uber or Lyft passenger, contact an attorney for help. These accidents can be tricky, as rideshare drivers are technically independent contractors in Kansas City. This means you may only have one option – to pursue a claim against the driver instead of the company. However, hiring, training, and retention negligence may lead to company liability. It’s best to partner with experienced attorneys after these accidents, especially once the new statewide legislation comes into effect. A lawyer can help you learn and protect your rights.