Uber’s mission to reduce drunk driving may prove more challenging than the company originally anticipated. Wrangling plastered passengers, it turns out, is sometimes no small feat.
In the latest high-profile instance of an Uber driver being assaulted, Taco Bell’s mobile experience and innovation lead, Benjamin Golden, 32, was caught on camera drunkenly beating his driver, 23-year-old Edward Caban.
Golden called the cab last Friday evening at around 8 p.m. but neglected to provide a destination, according to Caban. While fading in and out of consciousness and refusing to put his seatbelt on, he offered Caban vague directives while uttering curses.
As he felt his “spidey senses start tingling,” Caban said, he grabbed a can of pepper spray and turned his dash cam around to film the goings-on in his car. “Alright man,” he said as he pulled into a nearby parking lot. “I gotta kick you out.”
After some back and forth, Caban threatened, “Get out of my car, or I will call the police” -- whereupon Golden started punching him in the head and pulling his hair. Caban then pepper sprayed Golden, who promptly left the vehicle. Caban called the police, and Golden was arrested and charged with assault and public intoxication.
The video, which Caban subsequently uploaded to YouTube, has garnered more than 1.2 million views. (It should be noted that Uber does allow drivers to record passengers. “You may do so because it is your personal vehicle,” the company reportedly wrote to one of its drivers, who then posted the letter to YouTube. “However, please be aware that riders may take into account the camera when rating the trip. I would also look into your state’s privacy regulations to make sure you are not violating any privacy rules.”)
Golden’s employer has subsequently responded in kind. "Given the behavior of the individual, it is clear he can no longer work for us," Taco Bell told CNBC. "We have also offered and encouraged him to seek professional help."
Even though Uber has permanently banned Golden from the platform, Caban said he is no longer driving with the service due to safety concerns.