Being an Uber driver is not as easy as driving people from point A to point B. Drivers are increasingly using cameras inside their vehicles to protect themselves from unruly passengers who lie about what happened during their trip in order to get a refund.
On July 31 in Brighton and Hove, a city in East Sussex, England, a male full-time Uber driver and father of three picked up a female passenger. Since the woman is not being named despite falsely accusing the driver of sexual assault, The Daily Wire will not name the falsely accused man. The driver picked up the woman from University of Brighton dorms and drove her to a convenience store in Richmond Parade, according to local paper The Argus. The driver waited outside the store for the woman to return before driving her back to the dorms.
Later, Uber informed the driver that the woman had accused him of touching her leg after he locked the car doors. Uber suspended the driver’s account, with a note on his personal record detailing the accusation.
The allegation was sent to the Brighton and Hove City Council’s licensing team, which was able to view CCTV footage in the car and determine the accusation was false. As the Argus reported, a licensing enforcement officer emailed Uber to say he could “confirm that the allegation is false and probably just made to get a refund of the fare paid.” This same officer told Uber that the driver should be reinstated “as soon as possible.” Uber, however, waited nearly a month to reinstate the driver, costing him thousands of dollars.
The driver told the Argus that his family was “denied an income” due to the complaint while trying to continue paying for his vehicle and insurance.
“If I had no CCTV in my car, I would have been done,” the driver said. “My car is on finance, I rent the house, I have three children, bills to pay, loans, so many things.”
“It’s not fair at all that if someone complains that your account will be blocked without an investigation,” he added. “The council reviewed the CCTV within three days, but they blocked my account a month.”
The Brighton and Hove City Council told the Argus that it “always investigate as quickly as possible any serious allegations made against local taxi drivers.”
“Taxis have CCTV installed in them these days. In this instance we were able to review the footage very quickly and respond to the company that contacted us,” the council added. “In this instance we did not consider it appropriate to notify the police. Any possible further action relating to this incident would be a matter for the taxi company and/or the driver, not the council.”
The driver said he believes the false accuser “should be punished for making this false complaint.” So far, there is no indication that she will be charged with a crime, even though her allegations were against a named man and her actions cost him a month’s paycheck.
“This is one of the most serious allegations you can make about someone, next to murder and rape,” the driver told the Argus. “It could have changed my life, it could have led to suicide. I feel I’m very lucky because my CCTV was working.”
The App Drivers and Couriers Union told the Argus in a statement that “Too often private hire drivers are victims of false and vexatious allegations from customers seeking an easy refund. False allegations of a sexual nature can destroy lives, drive people to ill health and in some cases can lead to suicide.”
“Uber management openly admit that while they know passengers do make up false allegations with the motive of securing a dishonest refund which Uber deducts from driver’s wages, they nevertheless err on the side of believing the passenger,” the statement continued. “Brighton and Hove Council must now step in and review Uber’s security procedures in partnership with trade unions to ensure passengers and licensed drivers are properly protected.”
Earlier this year, an Uber Eats driver was killed after teen girls carjacked him. Other drivers have also faced false accusations of sexual assault.
On the flip side, some Uber drivers have committed crimes or acted unethically. In 2019, an Uber driver was sentenced to 3 years in prison for kidnapping a woman in New York City. In 2018, The Miami Herald published an exposé showing that Uber drivers were falsely accusing riders of vomiting in their vehicles in order to collect cleaning fees.
The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.