DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A ride-sharing company in Dallas hopes to revolutionize the industry with its “Safety First” approach.
The question of whether ride-sharing services are safe or not has plagued the industry as companies like Uber and Lyft continue to boom.
Uber completes 15 million rides a day, but women are half as likely to use it as men.
“The number one reason that those non-users told us that they don’t is that they are worried about their personal safety,” said Will Coleman, the CEO of Alto.
More than 120 Uber or Lyft drivers have been accused of sexual assault. Most recently, a rape in New Orleans, which occurred two weeks ago, rattled the industry– something Coleman learned when he shopped for insurance.
Uber and Lyft now require criminal background checks but do not interview or train drivers.
It is a gap the Dallas-based startup, Alto, hopes to fill.
Aside from interviewing, doing background checks and drug testing drivers, the new ride-sharing service owns all of its vehicles.
Drivers then go through three days of training.
The company uses technology to monitor vehicles, inside and out.
The CEO said one of the challenges was securing insurance for sexual assault and molestation, as many companies refuse to engage with the ride-sharing industry.
“We were really surprised by how difficult it was to find someone who would provide sexual assault and molestation coverage,” said Coleman. “Dozens of companies came back and said, ‘We’ve just had too many incidences of problems with our history with our other companies, and so we’re not willing to offer coverage in this space right now.'”
While Alto cars, passengers and drivers are all insured by companies, it ultimately had to self-insure for sexual assault and molestation coverage.
Coleman said he knows it’s a challenging industry but he thinks the premium on safety will revolutionize it.
“We believe this is the thing that is going to disrupt this market and allow us to take on players that are significantly larger and more well-established,” said Coleman.
Alto launched six weeks ago and has a fleet of 25 vehicles.