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Rideshare Safety

Jun 9, 2022 | Advocacy, News, Parliament

I still find myself asking ‘why?’, maybe if I wasn’t wearing a dress or if I was careful enough.

We all know in this place it is never the victim’s fault. Unfortunately the absence of proper regulation in the rideshare sector has left the industry wide open to be exploited by sexual predators. We have seen this too many times. The only requirement for a rideshare driver to identify their vehicle is to have a small sticker on the corner of their front windscreen. This is easily copied and easily removed. Yes, the apps provide the numberplate of the vehicle that is arriving. Anyone who thinks this is enough is kidding themselves. I worked as a taxi and hire car driver for over 30 years. Often people order a taxi or a rideshare as they have had a few drinks and cannot drive themselves. Many have over-refreshed and for a number of reasons may not be capable of identifying the numberplate of the vehicle they are getting into. This is the reality. We do not create regulations in a perfect world. The reality is that many drunk and vulnerable individuals will order a rideshare vehicle and will not double-check the numberplate.

Rideshare Safety

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Prior to the reforms of 2017 this was not an issue. Taxis have permanent branding on their vehicles that passengers can easily identify. Not only that, but taxis—not rideshare—are required to have a tamper-proof, permanent camera in their vehicle that can only be accessed by police and the regulator. A rideshare vehicle is a taxi. They should be forced to comply with the same stringent safety regulations that apply to taxi vehicles. The regulators, Transport Safety Victoria and Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria, must ask themselves: how many more sexual assaults have to occur before we take action? Minister, will you instruct Transport Safety Victoria to conduct a review of the identification requirements for rideshare vehicles, with the view of eliminating the ease with which predators can pretend to be a rideshare driver?

 

Answered: 1 August 2022

I thank the Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region for his question and long-standing advocacy for safety in the commercial passenger vehicle industry.

My thoughts are with the victim of this crime, and I hope that they have the support they need following this incident. You may be aware that the Victorian Government provides a range of support for victims of crime which can be accessed through the Victims of Crime Helpline on 1800 819 817.

Safety is the Andrews Labor Government’s number one priority, which is why we introduced a safety duties regime for the commercial passenger vehicle industry that places obligations on all industry participants to ensure that services are delivered safely.

Displaying commercial passenger vehicle identification is a legal requirement. Failure to do so may result in a penalty or fine. The current signage requirements support high standards of safety, while also recognising that some people use a private vehicle partially for personal use and partially for commercial passenger services. However, there are opportunities to improve the range and quality of vehicle identification systems, with some industry participants trialling new identification and safety technology in these areas.

The safety regulator is continuing to monitor developments and advise Government as to how they might meet the objective of enhancing public safety.

Victoria Police is responsible for detecting and investigating criminal offences such as sexual assaults and bringing to justice those responsible for committing them. The safety regulator will continue to work with Victoria Police to support them in fulfilling this role within the commercial passenger vehicle industry.

The Hon Ben Carroll MP

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