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The Unforeseen Way Connected Cars Are Keeping Rideshare Drivers Safer
We were always told connected cars would save our lives and change the way we do business, but it’s doubtful anyone foresaw this.
First, though, let’s set the stage: rideshare drivers around the world are being targeted by pre-meditated felons with the common theme of using the driver’s man-on-an-island work against him to carjack the vehicle. At last count in July, there have been 124 confirmed carjackings of ride-hailing drivers in the United States alone with eleven (11) of those drivers dead and dozens permanently injured from the associated assault.
For instance, in 2020 outside of Atlanta, an UberUBER driver was almost run over by his own car after politely loading the supposed passenger’s luggage in the trunk only to watch the vehicle drive away in broad daylight. In Chicago the rate of carjackings has increased nearly 250% since 2019 with several of them coming from a 14-year old girl that hailed Uber drivers. Or even this past week, an Indianapolis Lyft driver, Derek Trotter, was carjacked at gunpoint after midnight by two younger riders and forced to walk to several gas stations before eventually getting help. “[Lyft] should alert other drivers that this is going on,” says Trotter.
The enabler for the thieves and/or murderers: the entrepreneurial design of typical ridesharing. The driver is hailed to a possibly remote location by a customer using a non-descript account ID and then uses his own vehicle with no real-time oversight or intervention by the ridesharing company. If the car is stolen, typically there’s no method to track the vehicle or provide remote assistance.
And the drivers say the ride-hailing companies are doing little to help. Drivers can face penalties if they decline rides, and to add insult to injury (literally) many have been forced to start GoFundMe campaigns from unassisted medical and insurance deductibles after the carjackings.
Enter the connected car.
Some newer ridesharing companies such as Earth Rides have introduced a different business and technological solution: a fleet of connected (and, in this case, earth-friendly), upscale cars approaching an app-enabled taxi service. If a would-be felon attempts to carjack a vehicle, they can remotely disable the throttle and recover the vehicle. This software-enabled shield has, in fact, kept us from having a carjacking in our inception. “Thieves are not stupid,” states Trevor Gormley, at Earth Rides. “They know cars like our Teslas and Mach-E’s are connected and so they target other, unprotected vehicles.”
Additionally, it has ironically driven employees to their doorstep. “The Great Resignation is causing a tremendous amount of pressure on the gig economy, the same people who would have normally accepted a job for $5-$10 are now much more aware about the attributes of a request. Luckily for us, the security of our fleet gives Earth Rides a bit of an edge in recruiting talent. We’ve had drivers switch platforms and join our team because they are aware of the features our vehicles have.”
Crazy, right?! Who knew such an uber invention as the connected car could provide a lyft to ridesharing drivers’ safety?
“This article was originally published by Steve Tengler (firstname.lastname@example.org) on Forbes.com on October 22, 2021
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