Diary

Ridesharing Industry Doesn’t Need New Regulations to Keep Customers Safe

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

One of the greatest challenges facing businesses today is the seemingly endless layer of red tape confronting them at every turn. Rather than aid consumers – as these policies’ proponents claim they do – these types of burdensome regulations ultimately end up causing problems for everyone involved and result in higher costs across the board.

Unfortunately, these new regulations often do not receive the level of scrutiny they should undergo from lawmakers, something we saw this summer when the House of Representatives voted to pass a bill called Sami’s Law without opposition. Named after a young woman who was tragically killed by an imposter claiming to be a ridesharing driver, this well-meaning bill is the latest in a long line of legislation that was introduced with good intentions, but which will lead to negative consequences.

For example, the bill would create an entirely new regulatory body directed by the Secretary of Transportation designed specifically to come up with new regulations for the ridesharing industry. This advisory council, which would be in place for a minimum of twelve years, would provide regular recommendations to the Secretary, constantly creating new hoops for companies to jump through. We’ve reached a point where we need less regulation, not more, and this would unfortunately only make matters worse.

In addition to creating new regulatory hurdles for ridesharing companies, many aspects of this bill which purport to enhance customer safety instead unnecessarily put into law new changes and innovations that are already well underway in the industry. For example, many ridesharing companies already offer enhanced driver authentication processes such as PIN codes that customers can opt in to through the company’s app. In doing this, it offers this feature to customers who feel more comfortable using it without pushing it on to customers who are already comfortable simply using the information already at their disposal, like the driver’s picture, license plate, and car make and model.

That isn’t the only safety innovation underway in the industry, either. Most ridesharing apps now offer ways for customers to immediately contact the police if they are in danger, with the app sharing real-time information on their car’s location. The ridesharing industry does not need the federal government to dictate how it should keep its customers safe when it is constantly developing new ways to do so on its own.

For this reason, I hope that key lawmakers in Washington, such as Senate Commerce Committee Chair Roger Wicker (R-MS) recognize the need to continue carrying out a deregulatory agenda and prevent this bill from passing. He is a long-time advocate for keeping the government out of private industry, and I have complete faith he will continue to stand by those conservative principles when evaluating Sami’s Law.

The free market is at its best when it is just that: free to operate without government interference. Time and again, we have seen that new government regulations such as this do not actually fix the problems they look to address. Instead, they create a host of new ones that create headaches and drive up costs for both businesses and consumers. While this bill has good intentions, the ramifications it will have for the ridesharing industry and its customers are simply not worth it, especially as private companies are continuing to innovate and improve customer safety with each passing day. Innovation does not need to be legislated, and this is simply the latest proof of that fact.

Robert Graham is the former Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party and served as a senior advisor for President Trump’s 2016 campaign.