Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft have revolutionized the way we get from one place to another, but who regulates the popular service might surprise you.
The Wilmington, Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach Police Departments don't have anyone dedicated to monitoring Uber or Lyft, and technically they don't have to.
In North Carolina, only the state can control how ride-share services operate, something that frustrates taxi drivers like Sunny Glenn, owner of Sunny Cabs.
“We are monitored on a regular basis, and they are very, very tight with us about it," Glenn said of the taxi industry. "They stay on us all the time."
In Carolina Beach, where Glenn operates her business, taxis must apply and pay for permits and vehicle inspections set forth by the city.
While she thinks the extra regulations are unfair, Glenn is concerned about the safety of riders.
“The police don’t even know who they are," she said. "They don’t know if someone gets picked up by Uber, if that’s actually an Uber driver or not."
Glenn said one of the things that frighten her the most is that fact that anyone can buy an Uber decal of websites like Amazon.
“I don’t see how that cannot be dangerous," Glenn said. "We have an Uber sticker. I don’t even know where it came from. I think it came in the mail, and I mean obviously we don’t drive for Uber.”
Corporal Adam Schwartzel with the Wilmington Police says that's a problem that comes with the territory.
"It's hard to police," Schwartzel said.
State law requires that ride-share services have insurance and use background checks. However, Uber has come under a lot of pressure for their background check system.
The company uses a service called Checkr to run their background checks, but not all state and local authorities release information online.
On the other hand, Taxis must go through a FBI fingerprint check to obtain their permit. Something that Glenn doesn't understand.
"It does anger us because it's wrong," said Glenn.
Last year Uber paid California $10 million after a San Francisco DA found more than 25 drivers slipped through the company's background checks with criminal histories. Another example of why both police and Glenn say it's on riders to stay safe.
“Have two or three people in the car instead of just by yourself," Schwartzel advises of people using ride-share apps. "Be aware of your surroundings, know where you are. Just in case something does happen, so you’re not just oblivious to what’s going on around you.”
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