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I-Team: Uber, Lyft Drivers Unaware Of Safety Recalls

BOSTON (CBS) - Whether you are commuting, traveling, or just going out for the night, more people are relying on ride-hailing services to get around.

But how many of those passengers are stopping to think about the safety of the vehicles they are riding in? The I-Team discovered there could be reason for concern.

Using an app from Carfax, we quickly checked the license plates of 167 Uber and Lyft cars picking up passengers at Logan Airport over a two day period. Twenty-seven of those had open safety recalls or about 16%.

Recalls are issued when a manufacturer identifies a mechanical problem that needs to be fixed for safety reasons.  A recent example is the millions of cars that were recalled when it was determined the airbags made by Takata could release shrapnel when deployed in a crash.

Uber, Lyft driver (WBZ-TV)

We talked to one driver who we found was driving a car with a recalled Takata airbag and asked if he was aware of the issue. "I don't know about it," he told us.

The I-Team found recalls for faulty doors, brake issues and one driver had a problem with the latch of his hood which could make the hood fly open while the car was being driven. "I never heard about this," he said.

We reached out to Uber and Lyft.

Lyft told us:  "Lyft drivers use their personal vehicles to drive on the platform—the same car they use in their daily lives, driving their kids to school or friends around town. Drivers have a strong personal incentive to make sure their car is in a safe operating condition. In addition, all vehicles undergo annual inspections to ensure that they meet industry safety standards."

Uber told the I-Team that drivers are contractors and not employees of the company. A spokesperson said they provide resources to drivers and encourage them to check for recalls and to perform routine maintenance. Drivers are also reminded quarterly to check with NHTSA for recall information.

According to the president of the Massachusetts Bar Association Jeffrey Catalano, the responsibility to make sure the car is safe for passengers lies mainly with the driver.  But because Uber and Lyft both advertise their commitment to safety on their websites, they too could be held responsible. "They have an obligation, not just an ethical obligation but perhaps a legal obligation, based on their representations on their website to insure that nobody is driving around in a car that could possible kill them,"  he said.

Recall information is available by vin number from the Federal Government here. Carfax has a website and mobile app that allows you to search cars by license plate.

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