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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Beating Footage Of Uber Driver Raises Safety Concerns

Drivers are taking new safety precautions.

A brutal beating of an Uber driver was caught on camera in Orange County, Calif. Friday night, raising concerns about the safety of drivers in ride-sharing services.

The video caught inside the Uber vehicle shows an allegedly intoxicated male rider sitting in the back seat, falling over, and abruptly starting to punch the driver, Edward Caban, and pull his hair. According to Caban, the seemingly drunk passenger didn’t wear his safety belt and failed to give directions to his destination. The rider started to attack when Caban pulled over in a parking lot and asked him to leave.

Caban has a video camera in his vehicle to record the evidence because he says he has met similar riders before. However, many Uber drivers don’t have cameras. Drivers are starting to think about installing camera equipment in their vehicles after this incident.

“Definitely after I saw that, I have thought about having camera in my car,” Seanna Hughes, who has been an Uber driver for five months in Los Angeles, said. “It is necessary.”

Drivers usually use self-defense. Caban successfully used his pepper spray to defend himself and stop the attack. Seanna Hughes is also prepared to defend herself, but the company doesn’t give guidelines or trainings for drivers on safety issues, according to Hughes.

“I keep pepper spray in my car,” Hughes said. “Being a woman as a driver driving at night in L.A., it’s a little bit scary.”

There has always been concern about the safety of passengers in ride-sharing services, but the beating of this Uber driver has increased awareness of the safety of drivers instead. 

“Safety is a big concern in the driver community,” Edward Caban said to CBS News. 

Attacks of drivers in ride-sharing services have happened before and internationally. Last month, two Uber drivers were attacked in the same day in Brisbane, Australia. One was attacked and robbed, and the other driver was assaulted. However, it seems many drivers are still doing their job to make enough to pay the bills. Hughes drives as a second job outside her work as a hair stylist. She drives around 20 hours a week on weekend nights mostly, and she says it pays well.

“To be honest, to someone in my situation, it’s the fastest way to make money with the flexible schedule,” Hughes said.

In USC, some students choose to be part-time drivers for Uber or Lyft because of its profitability and flexibility. Troy Zhao, a USC student, has been driving for four months. He said it pays better than on-campus jobs, and he will continue to do work with Uber.


“But I think the Uber company should take some accountability of this attack and at least provide some compensation for the driver,” Troy Zhao said. “The company should have some precautions for drivers’ safety.”

In a statement to ATVN, Uber said, "We've been in contact with Mr. Caban and are thankful he is doing OK. ... The rider involved in this incident has been permanently banned from the platform."

The attacker, identified as 32-year-old Benjamin Golden, a senior marketing manager for Taco Bell, is now facing assault and public intoxication charges.

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