The NZ Transport Agency is urging potential Uber drivers in New Zealand to ensure they understand their responsibilities under transport law.
The NZ Transport Agency’s Group Manager for Access and Use Celia Patrick says while the Transport Agency has previously worked with Uber to ensure that drivers working through the Uber app were properly licensed, Uber is now taking a different approach.
“The Transport Agency understands that up until now, Uber has required drivers in Auckland and Wellington to hold a passenger endorsement on their driver licence.
“This is no longer the case with Uber now allowing drivers without passenger endorsements to carry paying passengers in Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington. This is illegal, as the law requires anyone carrying passengers for hire or reward to hold a passenger endorsement.
“Uber has stated that it is doing its own Ministry of Justice and driver licence checks before deciding if they will allow someone to drive for them. These are far less rigorous than the mandatory background checks, medical checks and examination of a range of other risk factors which are carried out by the Transport Agency before we issue a passenger endorsement to allow drivers to carry passengers for hire or reward,” Ms Patrick says.
While there is some overlap between the Ministry of Justice checks being used by Uber and the ‘fit and proper person’ checks carried out on individuals applying for a passenger endorsement, the Ministry of Justice checks do not provide information on the following factors, investigated by Police on behalf of the Transport Agency as part of a ‘fit and proper person’ check:
“We also require drivers to provide a recent medical certificate and information about any overseas criminal convictions as part of the passenger endorsement application process, providing additional safeguards for passengers.
“We want to make sure that prospective Uber drivers are aware of these requirements, and understand the possible consequences of driving without an appropriate licence or providing an unlicensed service, which can result in significant fines.
“As a safety regulator we have no interest in standing in the way of innovation, but we have a responsibility to ensure that people carrying passengers for a living have been properly vetted and understand their responsibilities under the law.”
Ms Patrick urged anyone considering becoming a passenger transport provider to contact the Transport Agency for help.
What is a ‘fit and proper person’?
Anyone who applies for or renews a passenger endorsement to drive a small passenger service vehicle like a taxi or a private hire vehicle must undergo a "fit and proper person check", and the check is repeated every 12 months to ensure that the person remains fit and proper. A fit and proper person check looks at things like traffic offending, previous complaints, serious behavioural issues and always includes a Police check to check for criminal offending, including overseas convictions.
See more information in the ‘About the fit and proper person check’ section of the factsheet(external link).
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