Florida Taxicab Association has a few questions for Uber driver/state Rep. Ritch Workman

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Florida’s taxicab industry has a few questions about state Rep. Ritch Workman’s new side job.

As reported by Florida Politics, the Melbourne Republican has recently taken up as an Uber driver-partner.

It’s not often you see a single part-time job raising such a fuss.

The Florida Taxicab Association, which represents companies with nearly 3,000 taxicabs throughout the state, issued a statement Thursday commending Workman for deciding to “experience firsthand the issues facing the vehicle-for-hire industry.”

Not every new Uber driver gets such a welcome; that’s because Workman’s day job is chair of the influential House Rules Committee.

“We are not against Uber or Uber drivers,” said FTA board member Roger Chapin, vice president of Orlando-based Mears Transportation. “What we want are answers to important questions to determine whether or not legislative changes are needed to address this emerging business model.”

Many of the questions reflect the concerns of the industry as it faces the growth of Uber, the app-based ridesharing company, throughout Florida.

What the FTA hopes Workman will answer after becoming an Uber driver include whether he informed his personal auto insurance company that he is using a personal vehicle for commercial activity. If so, what was the response?

Other problems include:

  • Can his insurance company or any other insurance company in Florida cancel the policy of a driver for using their personal vehicle commercially?
  • Does Workman meet the state defined “financial responsibility” of a commercial driver in Florida?
  • If Workman were to get in an accident when the Uber app is on, but not transporting a passenger nor on his way to pick up a passenger, will personal insurance cover the accident? Will Uber’s?
  • If Workman gets into an accident while using his personal vehicle for personal use (i.e. the app is not on at all), will his personal auto insurance cover the accident?
  • What is the impact on any “third party” involved in an accident?
  • Has any passenger offered to pay Workman with cash vs. the credit card on the app?
  • If Workman or any other Uber driver has a loan on their vehicle, are they in violation of their loan agreement? Can the loan company cancel the policy or repossess the vehicle?
  • The City of Melbourne, Workman’s home district, requires a Florida Department of Law Enforcement background check and fingerprints for all vehicles-for-hire workers to protect the public. Did he comply with the law prior to driving for Uber?
  • Why does Workman’s Uber profile list his name as “David” (he usually goes by Ritch)? Should Uber drivers be required to list their full and legal name?
  • Would Workman be opposed to providing a background check with fingerprint verification to drive for Uber or any other vehicle-for-hire company?

These, mostly hypothetical, questions reflect the myriad of issues FTA members have demanded of Florida municipalities and numerous state agencies over insurance and financial responsibility of Uber and its driver-partners.

“We look forward to Rep. Workman’s answers to these very basic questions,” Chapin added. “We don’t even care what the answers are, only that they assist in finally moving these important issues forward in the Legislature.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.