CHICAGO (CBS) — The call to better protect rideshare drivers in the wake of a carjacking crisis in Chicago took an unconventional twist Thursday.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, rideshare drivers at O’Hare International Airport met yelling chants and simulating a deadly carjacking.
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“This could be you!” Kevin Nelson of the Independent Drivers Guild told the gathering of drivers.
A man was seen sprawled over a red towel on the ground, representing the outcome the rideshare drivers are tired of seeing. Another man stood over him with a toy gun in his hand as part of the dramatization.
The Independent Drivers Guild is taking drastic measures to highlight the ongoing dangers rideshare drivers face in Chicago.
“Your next passenger could be your last passenger!” Nelson said through a bullhorn. “Joe was driving just like you!”
Joe Schelstraete is the latest Uber driver killed on the job. The father of three was gunned down in Cicero last week after responding to what he thought was a call.
Instead, police said one of four robbers shot him in the head. Two of those four robbers were still on the run as of Thursday night.
“We believe that Uber and Lyft could have actually stopped these murders by requiring self cellphone photos,” Nelson said.
While the dramatized death was intended to raise awareness for drivers, the group is demanding the companies provide better security measures – such as a requirement that all riders upload pictures just as drivers themselves do.
“A number of these murders have actually been unsolved, and unfortunately, Uber and Lyft have no information on who the suspect could be,” Nelson said.
This week, Uber teamed up with Cook County Crime Stoppers. It donated $25,000 to fund a reward for tips involving its drivers.
The company has also implemented new safety measures – including a new emergency button where drivers can text 911 and send their real-time location to dispatchers.
The company can now check on drivers if they leave the scheduled route. Finally, drivers can share their location and trips with family while working.
Yet drivers want more, also including real ID checks for passengers.
“So if anything happens, at least that ride can be traced to that individual person,” Nelson said.
A vigil honoring Schelstrate, the Uber driver killed in Cicero, will be held on Friday. The exact amount of the reward from the Uber fund in the case will be discussed.