(CHICAGO) – Today, Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago), Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee held a hearing where more public safety gaps were uncovered in the ridesharing industry currently operating in Illinois.  

Insurance industry experts testified today that drivers’ personal auto insurance does not cover rideshare drivers, passengers, occupants of other vehicles or pedestrians as the rideshare companies have claimed. Further, “excess” or “drop-down” insurance is unlikely to provide coverage in the event of an accident.

“After listening to our expert witnesses, it is very clear that Illinois residents are not covered and are not protected when they are a driver or a passenger of one of these ridesharing services,” said Senator Sandoval. “What’s not clear is why these companies have not come forward to answer very basic questions about public safety and have refused to provide copies of their insurance policies so that people can see if they’re protected. What are they hiding? The people of Illinois deserve to know.”

Representatives from UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar were invited to answer questions at today’s hearing and were asked to produce a copy of their insurance policies. The companies did not testify nor did they provide the Committee with any proof of insurance.  

At the conclusion of today’s hearing, Senator Sandoval asked the Illinois Department of Insurance to determine if they have the ability to subpoena these rideshare companies for a copy of their insurance policies. If it is determined the Department does not have the authority to issue those subpoenas, Senator Sandoval will seek authorization from Senate President Cullerton to subpoena the insurance policies.

“While these rideshare companies may be relatively new in Illinois, we as elected officials have always had a responsibility to protect the public,” Senator Sandoval said.   “These companies’ refusal to participate in this hearing today shows a troubling lack of concern for public safety.”

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Sandoval-rideshare-cmteIllinois State Senator Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago), Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee today announced he will hold a committee hearing next Thursday, March 13, on a number of public safety questions about new transportation providers in the state of Illinois, including Uberx, Lyft and Sidecar.

The purpose of the hearing is to determine what specific gaps concerning insurance and public safety currently exist and how to best implement policies to protect the citizens of Illinois. The committee has invited members of the ride-share community to explain their insurance policies and safety training materials.

“Over the years the Illinois Senate led by Senate President John Cullerton has worked hard to improve the safety of Illinois’ streets and highways,” said Chairman Sandoval. “Recent news reports have raised the concern of possible safety gaps created by new transportation companies operating in Illinois, specifically concerns about adequate insurance. When an Illinois citizen steps into a taxi, they expect they are properly protected and covered by our laws governing operations and insurance requirements. It is not entirely clear these new ‘rideshare’ companies are following necessary public safety standards including adequate insurance, criminal background checks and vehicle maintenance.”

The Senate Transportation Committee has requested full commercial insurance policies of UberX, Lyft and Sidecar demonstrating they have full commercial insurance as well as copies of all training/safety manuals offered to drivers of these ride-share companies.

In addition to the ride-share companies themselves, the committee expects to hear testimony from representatives of the Illinois Department of Insurance, automobile insurance providers, legal experts and representatives of the taxi industry.

This week President Barack Obama announced plans to increase investment in infrastructure. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Martin Sandoval spoke about his reaction to this plan: 

Sandoval-GRADE-SEPARATIONSSenate Transportation Chairman Martin Sandoval (D-11) recently met with IDOT officials at his district office in Cicero to go over design plans for a grade separation in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood.

The project involved a Preliminary Engineering and Environmental Study (Phase 1) of the proposed improvement of Central Avenue at the BRC Railroad in the vicinity of 54th Street. The most likely improvement scenario will be a grade separation of Central Avenue at the BRC tracks providing two continuous through traffic lanes in each direction and bicycle and pedestrian accommodations along the entire length. The Phase 1 Study includes the preparation of an Environmental Assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

“I’m happy to report the design for a grade separation is nearing completion,” said Sen. Sandoval.

The proposed improvement will address congestion experienced by motorists on Central Avenue due to train crossing disruptions. In addition, emergency response is compromised during periods of rail freight occupancy.

“Senator Sandoval has made this project a priority,” said Project and Environmental Studies Section Chief John Baczek. “We are working diligently to ensure all areas of the project are on schedule.”

The Phase 1 Study has taken approximately 18 months.

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