Uber bans driver suspected of vehicular manslaughter

The peer-to-peer car service deactivates the account of an off-duty Uber driver after he allegedly hit and killed a 6-year-old girl on New Year's Eve.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read
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Uber banned a driver from its system after San Francisco police identified him as the driver of an SUV that allegedly hit and killed a 6 year-old-girl on New Year's Eve.

VentureBeat noted the updated statement from Uber on Thursday. The company, which previously said it would "immediately deactivate any Uber partner involved in a serious law enforcement matter," said the accident did not occur during an Uber trip.

Police have arrested Syed Muzzafar, 57, of Union City, Calif., on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. He was reportedly driving the car that struck a woman and two children at about 8 p.m. Tuesday. Six-year-old Sophia was killed, and her mother and 4-year-old brother were injured.

Shortly after the accident San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim told SF Gate that the incident "raises questions regarding the driver training and selection process" for ride-share services like Uber. Peer-to-peer car service companies contract with drivers to provide on-demand vehicle service ordered through a mobile app.

Kim said Thursday that her office plans on reviewing the screening and training policies held by Uber and other ride-share companies to determine if more regulation is needed. The companies are already in the process of adhering to recently established industry safety guidelines from state authorities. Kim said she is not well versed in the state regulations, the first of its kind in the country, but Tuesday's accident is spurring more public debate about ride sharing.

She said she's not trying to single out ride-sharing companies when it comes to driver safety. Last year, a series of cyclist deaths involving large vehicles, including a cement truck and a public bus, prompted her office to work with the local public transpiration system and construction companies to address driver training among bus and truck drivers. Kim is questioning whether ride share companies should join the discussion as well.

"I think it's a real big problem when anyone is making a right turn into a crosswalk without yielding to a pedestrian, and this is something that drivers do period, but we need folks that are on the road a lot to get that training," she told CNET. "Honestly, turning violations and pedestrian right-of-way violations are two of the top five types of violations that kill or injure pedestrians, so this is something we want all drivers to be aware of. In the case that there's a company that has a little bit of oversight over their drivers, we would like to work with those drivers on drivers ed."

In the past, Uber and its competitors have said they perform extensive background checks on drivers, going beyond what authorities require for taxi drivers or other transportation businesses.

Updated, 5:16 p.m. PT: Added comments from Jane Kim and more background.