By MIKE CORDER, Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Ride-hailing firm Uber said Monday it is raising the minimum age of its drivers in the Netherlands and taking other measures to increase road safety after a series of fatal accidents involving Uber drivers.
The general manager of Uber Nederland, Thijs Emondts, said in a statement posted on the company’s website that it is lifting the minimum age from 18 to 21 years for drivers who use its app to connect with passengers.
Uber also will insist that drivers have at least one year’s driving experience and will develop a mandatory traffic safety training course for all drivers under the age of 25.
Rob Stomphorst, a spokesman for road safety organization Safe Traffic the Netherlands, says four people died in recent weeks in crashes involving Dutch Uber cars. He says the circumstances of the crashes remain under investigation. The organization is planning to work with Uber to develop the safety training.
Stomphorst welcomed the new measures as “a step in the right direction” but said more could be done to increase safety.
Uber’s Dutch arm could not immediately be reached for comment.
San Francisco-based Uber has expanded rapidly around the world by offering an alternative to traditional taxis through a smartphone app that links people in need of rides with drivers of private cars. That has drawn protests from taxi drivers who say Uber drivers don’t have to comply with the same standards as regular cab drivers, giving the ride-hailing service an unfair advantage and placing the public at risk.
In his statement, Emondts said ensuring the safety of Uber users and in the cities where it operates is the company’s top priority.
“That is why we are very upset at the recent traffic accidents in which a number of people have died,” he said, extending sympathy to family and friends of the victims.
“While we can’t establish a clear link between the accidents, we are determined to learn from them and to improve the safety of all people in the traffic,” he added.