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DC taxi cab kidnapping shines light on Uber's dubious drivers

Ryan Simonetti got more than he bargained for when he got into a DC Uber cab.
Ryan Simonetti got more than he bargained for when he got into a DC Uber cab.
arvind grover's photostream/

If you live in a big city, you've almost definitely heard someone talk about the amazing benefits of Uber. This increasingly popular company offers an alternative to traditional taxis by allowing any average Joe to cart strangers around town in the back of his or her car. The upshot is that Uber claims to be cheaper than a normal yellow cab; the downside is that you may very well end up in the backseat of a car piloted by a total psycho.

On Tuesday, Ryan Simonetti got more than he bargained for when he hopped in the back of an Uber cab in Washington D.C. Simonetti, who describes himself as a "diehard Uber fan" (seems like a missed opportunity), was approaching an Uber cab when he spotted a DC taxi investigator chatting with the car's driver. As Simonetti and company piled into the Uber car, the driver pulled silently away. That's about the time that the cab inspector switched on his vehicle's lights and gave chase.

When Simonetti expressed concern that they were being followed, the driver calmly assured him everything was fine, a sentiment he chased with, "“I’m sorry, we’re going to have to run this red light.” What followed was a high speed chase that took Simonetti and his coworkers across state lines.

The ordeal only ended after Simonetti told the driver, "Here’s two options. You take this exit, or I’m going to knock the side of your head in. If we crash, we crash, but you’re gonna kill us anyway." It was at this point that the driver decided it was in his best interest to pull over and let his disgruntled passengers out. The chase wasn't over for the driver, however, as the unnamed man reversed direction and began driving the wrong way back down the interstate.

This isn't the first time that one of Uber's drivers has been at the center of some ill-advised shenanigans. In June, a drunk woman who passed out in the back of an Uber cab awoke to find herself in a cheap motel with the car's driver, who was shirtless. It's not a big leap to suggest he had nefarious intent.

Uber is expanding rapidly and is increasingly in the news thanks to their odd choice of drivers. A quick glance at the employment application makes it seem that literally all you need to be a driver for Uber is a car and an email address.

Simonetti, who tweeted about the incident shortly after, claims he's still a fan of the service, though he's curious as to what kind of vetting the company does during the hiring process. That seems like an apt question, indeed.

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