Lax driver checks could see Govt ban Uber

Lax driver checks could see Govt ban Uber

Uber could be banned in New Zealand if it doesn't take urgent action in ensuring its drivers have the correct safety checks completed. 

All Uber drivers are required by law to have what's called a 'P endorsement' which allows them to carry passengers. 

However the company has refused to comply with that since April because it believes the process of gaining the endorsement carries too much cost for the drivers. 

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says there are "dozens and dozens" of unsafe Uber drivers on the road and the company is "mocking" the law. 

"I don't use Uber; my message to New Zealanders is that there isn't the assurance that there needs to be legally and there are Uber drivers without the endorsements who are acting unlawfully."

Mr Bridges says safety is paramount, the company is breaking the law and if they don't get in line, the New Zealand Transport Agency could deal to the service by placing a blanket ban on it. 

"They are looking at that," he said when asked if the NZTA was considering making Uber illegal. 

"They're looking at not only the prosecutions which we've got going on in relation to individual drivers but what could potentially happen in relation to Uber as a company but we're not there yet, it is quite complex legally." 

Uber has indicated that it carries out its own background checks - using the Ministry of Justice - but the NZTA has called that "far less rigorous" than the background checks required for a P endorsement. 

To gain a passenger carrying licence, the NZTA carries out checks including the 'fit and proper person' test which looks at medical health, overseas convictions, pending charges laid by police, past transport complaints and any history of behavioural problems raised by police. 

The agency says the checks Uber is doing would not pick up these things. 

Mr Bridges has also issued a warning to Uber drivers - he doesn't like what's going on and there will be consequences. 

"My advice to them for what it's worth would be think very closely before you drive for Uber, certainly don't be doing it if you haven't got a P endorsement."

NZTA confirmed that banning the service was an option on the table.