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Uber London’s Letter to the Editor of the Guardian

June 12, 2015 / London

Dear Ms Viner,

Last week Uber was contacted by one of your reporters about the checks done when drivers register in London. Safety is hugely important to our riders and to Uber so we wanted to give you the facts.

Uber has robust procedures to ensure drivers are suitable to use our platform. They must upload their documents to our systems — including driver’s license, MOT certificate, and insurance — and each one is physically inspected by our London team. No drivers get trips from Uber until those documents are approved. Any documents that are subsequently uploaded (for example a new MOT certificate) are reviewed by the team in the same way. We also run regular internal audits to check our procedures. In fact, Uber recently passed TfL’s annual documentation check of over 24,000 documents – one of the biggest ever done – with no issues. It’s important to note that all drivers have a TfL private hire licence, a process which includes a criminal records check.

The reporter raised a couple of specific issues that we wanted to address with you directly. First, he claimed to have identified a driver with an outdated MOT. We immediately checked our database and found that this was not true; we had a valid MOT certificate on file for that driver’s car. Second, the reporter said that another driver had been able to make two trips — even though the insurance document he had uploaded to Uber was fraudulent. We looked into this allegation as well and found that while the driver was fully insured (and Uber had his current and valid insurance document on file) he had uploaded a second fraudulent insurance document in conjunction with The Guardian’s reporter. That fraudulent document had been incorrectly approved by Uber.

As we’re always looking for ways to improve our systems, we’ve also decided to reduce the number of insurance companies that our drivers can use in the UK. This will help prevent fraud. In addition, we have permanently removed the driver from the Uber platform (we cannot have people attempting to use our systems fraudulently) — and also immediately reported the incident to TfL and the Metropolitan Police.

Finally, I wanted to explain the safety mechanisms we have built in before, during and after each trip. The Uber app pinpoints a rider’s location so she/he can request a ride from anywhere in London and wait safely inside for the driver to arrive. Riders can also see the driver’s name, photo, vehicle information and rating — so they can easily check it is the correct driver and vehicle, and that both are licensed and insured. And once on their way, riders can share a live map showing their progress with family and friends. In addition, because drivers use GPS enabled maps, each trip they make is tracked. Finally after every single trip, riders are asked to rate their driver, giving us real-time feedback on his or her performance. While we are always looking for ways to improve safety, we’re confident that an Uber ride is a safe mode of transportation.