North Texas Daily

Uber should provide more protections to their drivers

Uber should provide more protections to their drivers

Uber should provide more protections to their drivers
April 07
12:00 2021

Imagine you order an uber to go to a friend’s house. You have shared your live location with a friend to make sure your driver doesn’t take any unexpected turns. Within your app, there is an emergency button that will dial 911 if anything goes sideways. There are so many ways to feel safe as a passenger nowadays. Harmful drivers can now be accountable for everything they do to ensure your safety. 

But what if the roles were reversed? How can the driver be protected from a harmful passenger? This scenario seems less likely to be discussed and more likely to happen, especially after COVID-19 emerged.

The pandemic has created new challenges when it comes to safety and the public transportation dynamic. Last May, Uber and Lyft began requiring drivers and passengers to wear a mask for the whole duration of the ride. Violating this “No Mask, No Ride” policy would result in the cancellation of the ride completely or even the refusal to begin the ride unless a mask is provided. It seems pretty straightforward, yet so many people violate it every day.

The policy’s purpose is the most simple form of protection drivers have to protect themselves and still work for a living. People who are against wearing masks should understand that it’s also for their own safety and that it shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

Earlier in March of this year, Subhakar Khadka, a 32-year-old Uber driver from Nepal working in San Francisco, picked up three women in their twenties to take them to a friend’s house. He realized, as he was driving, that one of the passengers was not wearing a mask and he stopped the car and told them he needed to cancel the ride. 

At this point, the three women lost their temper. 

They began insulting Khadka, coughing on him claiming they had COVID-19 and demanding that he take them to their final destination. Luckily, both the women and the driver recorded the whole interaction with their phones and posted it on social media. For the passengers’ surprise, the support of the world went straight to the driver. At one point, one of the girls ripped Khadka’s phone out of his hands and took his mask and broke one of its strings. This level of physical aggression is unacceptable. 

After the passengers finally got out of his car, one of the girls pepper sprayed the inside of Khadka’s car and Uber only gave him $120 to clean his car, which is hardly enough to compensate for the psychological stress he was put under. A GoFundMe initiated by the public, however, reached around $100,000 to give the driver extra help for him and his family he fully supports back in Nepal.

The helplessness that this driver must have felt just begs the question of what kind of protections and resources Uber drivers could have so this situation does not happen again.

One way Uber can help better protect their drivers, is to include partition plastics in their welcome package they send to new hired drivers so they feel safer during each ride. 

These situations where customers respond aggressively when they’re enforced to wear a mask have become too common. From fast food restaurants where the costumer demands to be served, to clubs where people demand to enter without a mask, the common thread is the disregard for the policy and the lack of empathy for people who could be at risk because of their recklessness. 

Ultimately, Uber needs to protect and compensate its drivers with the same consideration and care as they do with their passengers.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Oriana Valderrama

Oriana Valderrama

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