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Lyft Will Run ‘Continuous’ Criminal Background Checks on Drivers, Tighten ID Rules

In addition to passing an initial background test to get started, drivers will have their criminal records monitored daily.

Amid continuing public concern over ride-hailing safety, Lyft is instituting new policies for driver screening. The company will institute what it calls “continuous” background checks for drivers, and is also introducing stricter rules for identity verification.

Under the current rules, Lyft drivers must pass a background check annually. Now Lyft will monitor all active drivers daily for any criminal convictions that would disqualify them from working for the company. In a blog post, Lyft said it is contracting with “two of the top background check companies in the country on driver screening. Prospective drivers will still have to pass an initial background check, as well as submit a valid driver’s license, social security number, and proof of insurance for their cars.

Drivers are disqualified from working for Lyft if background checks turn up “certain serious convictions,” such as “violent crimes and sexual offenses,” according to the company. Drivers are also kicked off the Lyft platform if they have one “major” (including driving with a suspended license or reckless driving) or more than three “minor” (such as traffic light violations) driving violations, or if they have had a DUI or other drug-related conviction in the past seven years.

Lyft will also beef up its identify-verification protocols in an attempt to prevent fraud. Drivers will now have to provide a real-time photo of their face, as well as proof that they are carrying an approved driver’s license. Lyft noted that it already provides license plate numbers, photos of the driver and vehicle, and the vehicle’s make, model, and color to riders so they can properly identify their drivers.

Ride-hailing companies are still finding it difficult to identify criminals. The New York Times found at least two dozen incidents of robbery, kidnapping, sexual assault, and other crimes perpetrated by people posing as ride-hailing drivers over the past few years. In 2018 two drivers working for Didi Chuxing—China’s largest ride-hailing company—allegedly murdered passengers. Prior to that, more than 8,000 Uber and Lyft drivers failed background checks in Massachusetts.