House Passes Bill Regulating TNC Driver IDs

On July 29, the House of Representatives passed a bill (H.R. 4686) requiring ride-hail and ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft to develop digital methods of verifying that the person picking up a passenger is the actual driver the company who is supposed to be picking them up.

The bill, which passed by voice vote, also makes it illegal to sell signs or decals that contain the proprietary trademarks or logos of TNCs, to prevent people from impersonating such drivers.

The bill allows the Secretary of Transportation to fine transportation network companies (TNCs) up to $5,000 per day for unintentional noncompliance and up to $20,000 per day for willful noncompliance with the mandate for driver ID, and declares the unauthorized sale of TNC logo signs and decals to be a deceptive trade practice punishable by the Federal Trade Commission.

The version of the bill passed by the House changed drastically from the version introduced in October 2019 by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). The earlier version would have required states to pass their own laws requiring ride-hail driver ID systems, and would have penalized states that failed to pass such laws by withholding 2.5 percent of their annual federal-aid highway apportionments each year.

The heart of the House-passed bill is section 2, which requires, within 90 days of enactment, each TNC to “establish and implement a system and policy within the transportation network company’s TNC platform that shall make available to each passenger a digital method to verify that the driver with whom the passenger has been matched through the transportation network company’s TNC platform has been authorized by the transportation network company to accept the passenger’s trip request prior to the beginning of the trip.”

The system has to include “a TNC platform restriction on a TNC driver from commencing a trip via the TNC platform until both the passenger and the TNC driver verify  the other’s identity using the system.”

Passengers are free to opt out of the driver ID verification system, and the bill also allows successor technology-based verification systems to be developed, in cooperation with a new USDOT advisory council created by section 4 of the bill that will develop performance standards for successor technology.

House debate on the bill can be read here.

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