CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- By now you know about the popularity of Uber and other rideshare services, but do you know the one big difference that could mean the difference in your safety?
It has become the norm, lots of Charlotteans say they ride Uber and Lyft several times a week.
Ride services like Uber and Lyft have become so popular, not just to leave bars and restaurants. Now people are taking them to and from work, even to the airport.
And despite some high profile incidents like a woman in Atlanta who got a black eye after she says an Uber driver punched her, a South Carolina driver convicted of assaulting a passenger, and a Charlotte man who says his Uber driver got violent after talk turned to politics last month.
NBC Charlotte even found a website called “who’s driving you” that claims to promote for-hire vehicle safety and track every incident with Uber and Lyft; there are pages and pages of entries.
But passengers NBC Charlotte talked to say they feel perfectly safe.
“I’ve never had a bad experience,” one said.
Still, some frequent riders were also surprised when NBC Charlotte pointed out a pretty big difference we discovered between the two companies.
Both companies do background checks. But Lyft often goes one step further.
“With Lyft, you have to do an in person interview, and during that interview they take a lot of time to walk through the app, the company and how it works.
Michael Gasper applied to work as a driver for both companies.
“What do you think of that that Lyft goes that extra mile?” NBC Charlotte asked.
“I think it’s pretty important. I’d feel much more comfortable if my wife or my sister is needing a ride, I’d feel much better if they were in a Lyft ride compared to an Uber because I know someone has put eyeballs on who the driver is.”
He says they also inspected his car in person.
But there’s something else; it appears neither company requires drivers to take care of recalls.
There have been thousands of recalls affecting millions of cars in the last five years, and on average, 20-percent of drivers don’t bother to fix the problematic part.
A spokesman for Lyft said, “Drivers have a strong personal incentive to make sure their car is in a safe operating condition. In addition to a safety inspection, drivers make a continuous representation that their vehicle meets the industry safety standards and all applicable state department of motor vehicle requirements of its kind."
A spokesman for Uber said only, “Under North Carolina law, every personal vehicle must be inspected annually, and the same holds true for rideshare drivers that partner with Uber.”
Frequent riders say that’s just not something they think about.
“It’s a great experience; I’ve never had a bad experience.”
The key to safely using these services is, when you call for a ride, check the driver’s picture, license plate and make of car and compare that before getting in the car.