INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 22, 2016) -- For the past six months, Indiana has been regulating ride sharing services like Uber under a new state law.
Uber has come under some question after a Kalamazoo, Mich. man allegedly went on a crime spree, while continuing to pick up and drop off customers in between deadly shootings.
Two of those customers were a couple from Indianapolis who were visiting the city at the time. That couple said they thought using Uber was the safe way to avoid being victims of the shootings, and even joked with the shooter himself while they were riding to their destination.
"I halfheartedly joked at him and said, 'You’re not the shooter are you?' And he said, 'No,' and I said, 'Are you sure?' and he said, 'No, I’m just really tired.' ... Looking back, it was a weird way to respond," one of the customers said.
Uber and ride-sharing services like it, which have become popular across central Indiana, have only recently been regulated by Indiana. Lawmakers passed a law last session that went into effect in July.
Under that law, a company must register with the state every year. The law also requires background checks and sex offender registry checks for every driver. Anyone with a felony in the past three years, as well as certain misdemeanors including OWI, resisting law enforcement, and operating a vehicle dangerously, is barred from driving under Indiana's law.
State Representative Christina Hale, D-District 87, said that because the law is so new, there is room to look back and see if it is working properly.
"This is the first year that these laws have been in place and I’d wager that we probably need to strengthen and improve them," Hale said.
Uber customers, like Laura McDonald, told FOX59 that the shootings had scared them. McDonald said that safety had already been on her mind.
"(I'ts) eye opening. I think it kind of makes me a little fearful of using it," McDonald said.
An Uber spokesperson told FOX59 that it does rigorous background checks through an accredited third party company and that since the Kalamazoo shooter had no criminal record, no background check could have flagged him for concern. It also said the shooter, who had been driving for about a month and picked up more than 100 customers, was rated 4.7 out of 5 by those customers.
The company released this statement from Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan:
"We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this devastating crime and those recovering from injuries. We have reached out to the police to help with their investigation in any way that we can.”