Three Uber customers were allegedly taken on the ride of their lives this week when their driver decided to flee from a taxi inspector and race through Washington, D.C., and Virginia.
“Was just kidnapped by an @uber driver in DC, held against my will, and involved in a high speed chase across state lines with police #Crazy,” tweeted Ryan Simonetti, a New York businessman who was in town on business, according to the Washington Post.
The incident occurred when Simonetti and two colleagues ordered an Uber so they could head to Washington’s Tysons Corner after finishing up a meeting near the city’s Verizon Center. As they approached the car they saw a taxi inspector talking to their driver. They climbed in and the driver drove away from the inspector, who then hopped into his own car and began following.
That’s when the Uber driver allegedly began driving like a wild man, running through a red light before racing down Interstate 395. The Uber driver said that if he stopped he could get a $2,000 fine from the inspector, Simonetti told the Post. At this point Simonetti and his colleagues demanded that the driver stop or let them out before they crashed.
“I physically tried to force his leg to hit the brake. I ripped off his pant leg. I said, ‘Here’s two options. You take this exit, or I’m going to knock the side of your head in,’” Simonetti told the Post.
The driver relented and pulled onto an exit ramp, letting the three passengers jump out, before turning around and driving the wrong way up the ramp.
San Francisco-based Uber said it had “deactivated” the driver and was working with authorities to investigate the incident.
Simonetti, a self-described die-hard Uber customer, said he hoped the company learned from the incident.
“The question is what the vetting process is for drivers,” Simonetti told the Post. “As they get [bigger], how do you prevent stuff like that from happening? How do you screen crazy people out?”
The incident is an example of why ride-sharing companies should be held to the same regulations as taxi companies, said Dave Sutton, a spokesman for Who’s Driving You, a public safety initiative about the risks of ridesharing started by the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Assn.
“As Uber begins to provide more and more rides, you’ll see more and more things happening,” Sutton told the Los Angeles Times. “This is the reason why oversight is required, and without it, you’ve got passengers at risk.”
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