Business / Companies

New regulation hard to gauge, observers say

By Cao Yin (China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-05 09:47

With a regulation for car-hailing services just around the corner, internet and judicial specialists are talking about how big a role it will play in the industry after a tragedy involving a car-hailing app in Shenzhen.

The regulation, which aims to integrate online car-hailing services into the taxi management system and raise the access threshold for drivers, is expected to be issued this month.

But how effective it will be and how practical it will be in reducing problems is hard to estimate, said Zhu Wei, an associate professor of law at China University of Political Science and Law.

He made the comment on Wednesday after a driver registered on Didi Chuxing, a leading online hailing service, allegedly robbed and killed a woman in the Baoan district of Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on Monday night.

Zhu said the tragedy was an isolated case and that "similar incidents also happen in the taxi industry".

"A car-hailing service provider can't control what happens after a passenger takes a registered car, or to know that a car used for a pickup is different from the one registered online by the driver," Zhu said.

Industry rules currently require ride-hailing service platforms to review the qualifications of drivers and their cars-including years of driving experience and whether a driver's license and vehicle license are valid.

The draft regulation issued by the Ministry of Transport in October said that drivers of private cars who fail to obtain a required license are banned from offering rides for payment through car-hailing apps.

According to the Shenzhen Transportation Commission, 1,425 drivers were found to have taken drugs and another 1,661 had "serious" criminal records before starting work with online ride-hailing companies.

Zhu added that some of the companies recognize the problems and began on their own to review whether a registered driver has a criminal record.

Wang Weiwei, a lawyer at Beijing Zhongwen Law Firm who has watched the progress of the regulation, said he agrees with raising the threshold for drivers "because the increasingly popular way to get around is closely related to the interests and safety of users".

Wang suggested that car-hailing services cooperate with public security bodies for more and stricter reviews of car and driver registrations.

When a crime is committed by a registered driver, the legal liability of the company is likely to turn on whether a mistake was made in the company's review process, said Qin Xudong, an internet specialist in Beijing.

"Car-hailing service platforms can increase safety by improving technical skills," Qin said. "For example, they can design an alarm button or a reporting channel for passengers in danger, or they can set up a compensation fund for accidents."

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