riders experienced one of the worst-case scenarios skeptics of the rideshare
service--a high-speed car chase and a (brief) de facto
kidnapping--during a visit to the Washington, D.C. area.
The Washington Post
reports that Ryan Simonetti
, co-founder of a company called Convene, and two colleagues hailed an Uber car after a meeting, and despite noting that a D.C. taxi inspector was talking to the driver, they hopped in.
It appears that the driver decided at that time, with his documents in the hands of the inspector, to make a break for it with the three passengers on board. The inspector turned on his siren and followed, and the Uber driver led him on an 8-10-minute chase that took the lot of them onto the highway where they narrowly missed other cars while travelling well in excess of the speed limit.
“It was insane,” Simonetti told the outlet. “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. If we crash, we crash, but you’re gonna kill us anyway.’”
The driver pulled over and slowed enough for the three to get out of the car, and then he sped off. The inspector had caught up by then and remained with Simonetti’s party.
An Uber spokesperson told the Post that it was aware of the situation and had deactivated the driver. Simonetti doesn’t seem to be put off enough to stop using Uber, although the situation does bring to the fore some questions about backgrounds checks and other security measures taken to protect riders.