Uber Needs Rules, But Not Overkill

Sun Sentinel.

It just got a lot tougher to be an Uber driver in South Florida.

The Broward County Commission passed a sweeping ordinance Tuesday that tightens regulatory screws on Uber and other competitors using cellphone apps to connect drivers with riders.

If you want to earn extra cash driving for Uber, Lyft or any other so-called “transportation network company,” get ready to:

Pull out your wallet to buy commercial liability insurance, something that can cost thousands of dollars more than your personal insurance.

Provide your fingerprints to Big Brother.

Register and pay a fee for a county chauffeur’s license.

Get a 19-point certified inspection of your car.

Some of these requirements make sense. After all, commuters want to know their Uber driver is not a murderer, that the car is safe and that there’s insurance in case of an accident.

However, requiring part-time drivers to follow state taxis laws and carry 24-hour commercial liability insurance goes too far and stands to hinder a new transportation option that’s been quickly embraced by the public.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Uber representatives reminded commissioners that their company provides commercial insurance for drivers while on duty, but not when they’re using their cars for personal use, which makes sense. Government has no business telling drivers what type of insurance they must carry when off-duty. By making part-time Uber drivers follow the requirements for full-time taxi cabs, commissioners played into the hands of insurance companies that want a bigger piece of the Uber pie.

Uber also objected to more-stringent background checks for drivers, a less persuasive argument. Yes, a “Level II” FBI-based background check will cost more and take longer, but the extra level of scrutiny will help ensure public safety. Company representatives are probably right that fewer drivers will submit to the more-invasive checks. They also contend that the company’s background checks meet the highest industry standards. But if that’s so, the county’s requirement shouldn’t be such a stretch.

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