California Passes Ride-Share Guidelines

Becomes first state to regulate the popular service

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California regulators approved new requirements for ride-sharing companies such as UberX and Sidecar, making it the first state to enact safety guidelines for the popular taxi alternative.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) made the decision Thursday, providing new rules requiring driver criminal background checks, training, at least $1 million in per-incident insurance coverage and a no-tolerance drug and alcohol policy. 

The new regulations also require drivers to display signage on cars to identify the service as well as obtain a license from CPUC, submit typically-private information including the number of rides given, service area and number of drivers who were suspended or violated company policy.

The policy, which created a new category for ride-share programs, is considered a landmark victory for tech ride-share companies. The concept came under criticism from taxi services, which claimed the startup services are unsafe, improperly insured and evading regulatory fees.

Ride-share companies will have a year to bring drivers up to code, though many already practice some of the new regulations.