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Benson Legislation Seeks to Protect Passengers from Sexual Assault in Rideshare Vehicles

In response to disturbing reports of nearly 6,000 Uber drivers and passengers being sexually assaulted each year – including a recent attack in Mercer County just a few weeks ago – Assemblyman Daniel Benson has introduced legislation to promote more transparency among transportation network companies (TNC) in an effort to limit sexual predators’ access to them.

The bill (A-6105) mandates more stringent reporting on the part of both applicants and TNC companies. During the application process, job candidates would be required to disclose whether they have any prior TNC experience and whether they were the subject of a sexual misconduct investigation while working for that company.

If any current drivers are accused of sexual misconduct, the TNC is required to notify other TNCs in the state of the allegation, status and eventual findings of the resulting investigation. With stricter reporting requirements, companies such as Uber and Lyft would be more capable of protecting their customers from sexual abusers who would otherwise be able to switch between ride-sharing apps to escape scrutiny and continue preying on unsuspecting passengers.

By having these companies inquire about a driver’s background and share information with one another about dangerous applicants, it would be harder for assailants to continue perpetrating such assaults.

“Customers have a right to feel safe when using rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft, and that starts with transparency,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “As our transportation system continues to evolve and more people use rideshare services, we must take the necessary steps to safeguard customers from potential harm.”

In addition, the bill authorizes law enforcement agencies to provide TNCs with a record of an individual’s arrest, if the record is available to the general public, and notification of their conviction if the sexual misconduct charge was in connection with a prearranged ride. TNCs would be permitted to ban drivers accused of sexual misconduct on the job from using the digital network, such as the phone app.

“We must do everything we can to help keep passengers safe from predators who would try to harm them as they are driven to and from their destinations,” said Benson. “With this legislation, New Jersey has the opportunity to continue to lead the nation in ensuring rideshare safety for both riders and drivers.”