Getting a ride via UberX, a service that pairs up those in need of a lift with pre-screened drivers in the area willing to give them that lift, is getting slightly more expensive, as the company adds a one dollar Safe Rides Fee.
According to Uber, the additional cash “supports our continued efforts to ensure the safest possible platform for Uber riders and drivers,” claiming the money will go to fund background checks, regular motor vehicle checks, driver safety education,and insurance.
Uber and other similar services have been criticized by existing taxi services for allowing non-professional drivers to use their own cars to do the jobs of taxi and livery drivers.
This issue was put into the spotlight in recent months following the tragic death of a 6-year-old girl who was hit by an Uber driver in California. Not only did the incident raise questions about the safety and training of those behind the wheel for Uber, but it has also gotten bogged down in the debate over whether or not Uber is responsible for those times when one of its drivers is not actively engaged with a passenger.
In that incident, the driver was not driving or picking up an Uber passenger, but says he was using the Uber app to see if there were passengers in need of a ride. Uber maintains that since there was no passenger in the vehicle, it can not be held liable for the driver’s actions.
Last month, both Uber and its competitor Lyft announced they would expand their insurance policies to cover drivers while they are between jobs. It seems likely that the additional cost for this insurance is a big reason for the new tacked-on fee.