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Chicago rideshare drivers looking for safety solutions | Illinois


(The Center Square) – Chicago Gig Alliance organizer Lori Simmons is leading the charge in demanding city officials take action in response to a rash of recent rideshare driver robberies on the city’s West Side.

“It’s really scary,” Simmons told The Center Square after authorities recently issued a community alert about the attacks. “I did rideshare full-time for about five years and I’m still on the platform as a part time worker and a lot of people that I know and care about do this work full time. It’s really terrifying to see people take advantage of this platform, of the fact that it’s a dangerous job.”

Simmons said much of the danger stems from drivers not knowing what the people they’re picking up look like and none of them being required to use their legal names in signing up to use the app to request a ride.

“We literally have no idea who’s going to get in the car so it makes it really easy for someone to take advantage of that either by using a fake name and pretending to be a passenger or for someone who just sees a rideshare vehicle outside and knows they can run up on the vehicle and the driver probably won’t know that it isn’t their passenger,” she added. “I’ve been trying to get some details from police about what were the circumstances of these incidents, but they really don’t want to talk about it.”

In the alert, the Chicago Police Department noted that all of the ambushes have occurred while drivers were either picking up or dropping off passengers and in the same area where two ride-share drivers were recently slain. More recently, a rideshare driver was shot in the chest and critically injured in the Austin neighborhood when three men tried to rob him.

Through CGA, drivers have long been calling for policies crafted to help keep them protected, including the Chicago Rideshare Living Wage and Safety Ordinance that Simmons said also seeks to increase wages for drivers and provide them greater job security.

“We’re working with the city of Chicago to try to find ways to alleviate the dangers of doing this job,” she said. “The companies at the very least could do their due diligence in terms of who’s using the app. We might not know what’s going on outside the vehicle but we at least want to know we’re not going to get robbed or murdered by our own passenger.”

Simmons added among the steps she would like to see companies take are requiring ID from passengers and providing drivers with pictures of them. She insists that in order for drivers to prove who they are and use the rideshare app, they are required to do facial recognition by looking into their phones several times a shift.

With Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration now in power at City Hall, Simmons said she is hopeful that change may be on the way, adding that CGA was recently invited by the mayor to take part in a hearing where a new committee of rideshare drivers, mail carriers and bus drivers worked on safety solutions.

“Before Mayor Johnson was elected we couldn’t get any traction talking with any of the mayors,” she said. “With the new administration, we were pleased to be invited to participate. We’re in the early stages, but I’m hopeful we can come up with some solutions to make drivers a little bit safer.”

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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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