Mobility service providers have a responsibility to ensure the reliability and commitment of their drivers to the safety of passengers. That's why it is essential to thoroughly examine the background and driving history of potential hires. This review goes beyond checking for criminal records – it includes verifying that there are no charges or violations related to reckless driving.
At the same time, implementing a review mechanism is essential to safeguard your business against potential liabilities and legal consequences, should incidents occur. In this article, we explain in detail why your mobility application needs a background check feature for drivers and how to implement that feature step-by-step.
Why you need an in-app driver background check feature
Mobility apps for drivers in the U.S. often require a background check security feature for a number of reasons. Consider the following:
- Safety: one of the primary reasons for implementing background checks is to ensure the safety and trustworthiness of both drivers and passengers. These apps connect strangers who will be traveling together, and the background check feature helps verify the identity and history of drivers to create a sense of security for passengers.
- Regulatory compliance: Background checks are frequently mandated by local, state, and federal regulations. Governments and transportation authorities often require ridesharing and transportation network companies to perform background checks on their drivers to ensure compliance with specific safety standards. By incorporating this security feature, mobility apps can meet these regulatory requirements.
- Liability management: in case an incident occurs, a background check feature will help to manage potential liability and provide protection in case of legal issues. Implementing the feature demonstrates that the service provider has taken all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their users.
- Risk management: to avoid potential legal consequences, mobility service providers should ensure they work with drivers with valid driving license and a clear driving record, as well as clear criminal record. The background check feature verifies this information by checking records from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and other relevant authorities. This is critical for meeting the safety and quality standards of the service provided.
Know the legal requirements of your target market
Various jurisdictions across the U.S. have implemented regulations specific to the ridesharing and transportation network industry. These regulations often include provisions that mandate driver background checks working with mobility apps. For instance, many states and cities have passed laws or ordinances that require ridesharing companies to conduct comprehensive screenings on their drivers.
It's important to note that specific driver check requirements may vary between jurisdictions. Consider the below examples:
- California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) requires transportation companies like Uber and Lyft to perform criminal background checks going back seven years for each driver. They must also screen drivers against the National Sex Offender Registry and the U.S. Department of Justice National Criminal Search database.
- In New York, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) has specific background check requirements for drivers working with ridesharing companies. They must conduct fingerprint-based criminal background checks, including checking for criminal convictions, outstanding warrants, and other disqualifying factors.
- Massachusetts’ Department of Public Utilities (DPU) oversees ridesharing services in the state. DPU regulations require transportation companies to conduct background checks on their drivers focusing on criminal records, driving records, and a check against the National Sex Offender registry. It’s a mandatory step before admitting drivers to use the mobility services.
Compliance with these regulations is crucial for mobility app providers to operate legally and avoid potential penalties or legal repercussions. Failing to comply with driver background check requirements can result in fines, suspensions, or even the revocation of licenses or permits necessary to operate the service. MaaS companies must therefore incorporate screening features into their mobility application to demonstrate their cooperation with the state law.
Additionally, note that regulations may evolve over time, therefore, forcing you to always stay up-to-date.
Implementing an in-app driver background check in 7 steps
Step 1: Determine the scope and requirements
You have to begin by determining what you wish to check with regards to the automotive history of the individual in question. Do you want to know their accident history? List of tickets? Sexual offenses? Whether they have driven stolen vehicles? You may even want to check whether the person applying for a job isn’t listed as deceased, which would clearly indicate they are a fraudster.
Setting the criteria upfront will help you identify the relevant reports you should examine. Here are some of the options you should definitely prioritize when it comes to verifying potential drivers:
- Motor Vehicle Report: it offers access to the full driving history of an individual, including vehicles they had driven, traffic offenses they committed, tickets they received, etc.;
- National Criminal Search: contains information about an individual's criminal history at a national level;
- Sex Offender Search: focuses on identifying individuals who have been convicted of sex-related offenses.
Additionally, you may consider the following:
- SSN Trace: the information associated with an individual's Social Security Number;
- Global Watchlist Search: screens individuals against various international watchlists, sanction lists, and databases maintained by government agencies and international organizations;
- Education Verification: the educational credentials claimed by an individual, such as degrees, diplomas, certificates, or academic achievements
- Employment Verification: an individual's employment history, including their job titles, dates of employment, and sometimes job responsibilities;
- and many more.
At this stage, you have to be careful about making the selection, as each of these reports will generate substantial costs, so make sure you have the right budget aligned for this purpose.
Step 2: Select the right background check provider
Next, you need to select the right provider that will guarantee access to the data you need to examine (you can check our FAQs below for the list of leading data providers in the U.S.). Make sure you select the provider that specializes in driver screening, such as Checkr, so that they can give you access to the reports you require.
Step 3: Obtain driver consent for background check
This is an extremely important step – you cannot perform driver screening without their explicit consent. You have to design the relevant interface feature through which they will grant you the permission to perform the background check for drivers license and other records. It can be a simple form, but this step cannot be skipped or you will risk legal consequences.
Step 4: Perform initial personal data verification
Drivers will typically be asked to submit their personal data and photographs of their driving license. If there is a typo in any of their data and you subsequently submit such erroneous data to the provider for verification, they will report incorrect information and will charge you for it. Therefore, to minimize the costs, ensure you implement an initial verification check mechanism for the data you’re gathering. An experienced provider will be able to advise you on the best mechanism that can help you automate this verification process with, for instance, an OCR technology for picture-to-text extraction.
Step 5: Launch the verification process
Now that you’ve obtained the user’s consent to process their personal info and collected the data you need, you can launch the verification process. It will involve creating an account with your selected data provider and submitting requests for reports you’ve identified in step 1. Ensure you implement relevant security mechanisms to safeguard the data. Depending on the number of reports you request and the types, it will take from just two days to a week to obtain the results.
Step 6: Evaluate results
At this stage, you’d have to know the relevant criteria for evaluating the results. The report you receive from the driver background check provider will yield solely a list of items on which an individual passed or failed, or cases that you should take under consideration. Consider the below example report:
At this point, you will be able to inquire for more details about specific offenses (should they come up in the reports). This will help you make informed decisions with regards to every applicant.
Step 7: Ensure continuous checking
Ensuring that you have up-to-date information about drivers is crucial, since they may change at all times. When working with a specific provider, you will be able to set a specific frequency for validating the relevant data.
Implementing a driver background check feature with RST
If you’re looking for a partner that could help you implement a driver background check feature into your mobility application, we are well equipped to help you. We specialize in MaaS development services and other solutions that rely on geolocation data and custom mapping. We’ve helped multiple companies and mobility startups develop solutions similar to Uber that succeeded on the market. For proof, take a look at our cooperation with BetterTaxi, Bussr, and Trans.eu, a leading logistics provider in Europe and Asia.
If you’d like to book a chat with our mobility experts, just drop me a message and I’ll find a suitable time for a free consultation.