The New Algorithm For Uber

The New Algorithm For Uber

David Brown

Lorelei Critelli, Staff Writer

When someone is stranded somewhere, intoxicated and doesn’t have a ride (or both), modern problems require modern solutions. So they pick up the phone and call an uber. Easy fix right? $15 and they’re home safe and sound. Now it’s best they  make sure they’re sober before the ride is ordered. Uber now has a policy where drivers can refuse service if they suspect someone is intoxicated. This is determined by a machine that detects things like how the phone is being held, how quickly and accurately information is submitted, and the setting in which the ride is ordered. 

Uber has been getting reports from the very start of the company from drunk passengers about the drivers treating them inappropriately. Of course this isn’t good for Uber, so they have tried time and time again to make passengers feel safe by updating policy, for example passengers can now see the driver’s profile that includes how many 

rides the driver has given, their rates, etc. You can tell what they’re known for, how many people rated them things like “Amazing conversation”, and “Expert navigation.” Users grew fond of this update and the new model was successful for a while until Uber began to receive reports from drivers about their drunk passengers causing harm and interfering with the driver’s ability to get them to their destination safely.

Uber drivers are not employees, but independent contractors. This is because they set their own hours, own their cars and are free to work for the company’s competitors if they want. Since this is the case, everything comes out of the driver’s pocket to get that “Above and Beyond” rating. This includes making sure the car is clean after drunks threw up or left behind any other bodily fluids in the backseat. They don’t get paid for new mats or cleaning supplies, so time and money is taken out to maintain an acceptable space for passengers. Opposing arguments say it’s their choice to work for Uber, but if they’re already setting their own hours and risking their property shouldn’t they have a say in who they pick up? Any business can choose to refuse service to anyone for the same reasons Uber drivers want to choose their passengers.

Now it’s not just loud mouth messy drunks Uber is worried about, it’s violent passengers that make drivers unsafe. According to Uber, 42% of the 3,000 people assaulted in Uber rides were the drivers. It’s no longer just conveniency being put on the line, but personal safety. 

People have made the claim that the whole point of Uber was to prevent drunk driving. (which has proven over and over again to be one of the most dangerous things in the world.) While this is true, the policy isn’t so drivers could say “no” to someone who could be drunk, but so Uber’s algorithms could match the passenger up with someone who has experience and is willing to do the job. No one wants to get puke in their car during their first day on the job, and more importantly, no one should feel unsafe while they’re working, but is leaving drunk people with no other choice than to drive and potentially cause a wreck a good idea?