Congress calls on ride-hailing companies to improve safety

Members of Congress are asking ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft to improve safety and clean up their act

"It's woefully inadequate, leaving passengers vulnerable and at risk of harassment or assault," said Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, adding that the hearing should serve as a wake-up call to ride-hailing companies that their days of operating with little oversight are over.

The committee introduced a bill that aims to close some gaps, helping riders confirm that their drivers are legitimate. For instance, the bill would require drivers to have digital QR codes that a rider could scan with a smartphone. It also would prevent anyone but the ride-hailing companies from selling Uber and Lyft signs for drivers to display in their car windows.

The bill was inspired by college student Sami Josephson who was kidnapped and murdered after getting into a car that she thought was her Uber ride.

Lyft said it supports increasing penalties for anyone impersonating a rideshare driver or attempting to sell Lyft signs.

"We share lawmakers' commitment to safety," said Lyft spokeswoman Campbell Matthews in an email.

Uber said it has been working closely with the committee since its initial outreach in September and will continue to work with lawmakers and law enforcement to focus on the most effective measures to put safety first.