Ridesharing Safety Tips
Over the past few years, ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft have become extremely popular, especially in major cities. These companies hire drivers to provide a convenient and often less expensive alternative to traditional taxi services. Riders can request an Uber or Lyft on their smartphones and have a ride within minutes.
To enhance security, both Uber and Lyft conduct background checks on prospective drivers. To be hired, drivers must not have been charged with operating under the influence, sexual assault, or violent crimes. However, there are ways around these checks. For example, if a person uses a false identity, the background check will not be accurate. Below are examples of real-life stories of other users' negative ridesharing experiences, followed by tips to ensure your own safety while using ridesharing services.
Recent incidents with Uber/Lyft Drivers
In the past few months, there have been several incidents with Uber and Lyft drivers which have included the following:
- Long Island, New York: An Uber driver was arrested and charged with exposing himself to a female passenger.
- Boston, Massachusetts: A Lyft driver assaulted and threatened two passengers with a metal pipe after one of the passengers forgot his phone in the vehicle.
- Sterling, Virginia: An Uber driver was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual battery against a passenger.
- Chicago, Illinois: A Lyft driver threatened to shoot a passenger. The driver was charged with aggravated assault and unlawful use of a weapon. Although these incidents do not occur often, there is still a chance you could have an issue with your driver or fellow passengers. Following the tips below will help you stay safe while using ridesharing services.
Ridesharing Safety Tips
1. Check the driver's rating
If a driver has had problems with passengers in the past, they're likely to have bad reviews. Check to see if the driver who is scheduled to pick you up has bad reviews. If the driver does, then you should cancel the Uber or Lyft and request a new driver.
2. Avoid riding in the front seat
Passengers who ride in the front seat have been on the receiving end of assaults, groping and other unwanted behavior. The back seat gives you distance from the driver and the ability to exit the vehicle if an incident occurs.
3. Always wear your seatbelt
Even when in the back seat, all riders should fasten their seatbelts.
4. Follow along with your own GPS application or the App
On your smartphone, use the ridesharing application or a mapping application such as Waze to view the route while you ride. This will ensure that the driver is using the most efficient route and taking you to the proper destination.
5. Travel in groups
There is always safety in numbers. Whenever possible, ride with friends or family members to your destination. If you are traveling alone and feel uncomfortable, call a friend or family member and let them know where you are going and what time you expect to arrive.
6. Tracking feature
Many ridesharing services provide features within their applications that allows friends or family members to track your location. This will allow someone to know your location as well as when you are expected to arrive at your destination. To use this feature on Uber, press the "Share Status" button1. To use this feature on Lyft, press the "Send ETA" button.2
7. Trust your gut
If you have any discomfort or sense that something isn't right, then don't get into the car. If you are already in the car, then simply ask to be dropped off at the nearest safe location. If the driver refuses, call 911 immediately.3
In case of an accident while using a ridesharing service:
1. Check to ensure that all parties involved in the accident are safe
2. Notify police and paramedics as needed
3. Contact Uber or Lyft to notify them of the accident
Both Uber and Lyft have accident reporting systems integrated into their mobile applications. Using the application, you can contact a representative of the appropriate company and notify them of an accident. To contact a representative of Uber, press "Trip Issues and Fare Adjustments" in the app. To contact a Lyft representative, press "Contact Support".
After you are connected with a representative, you will be able to provide the details of the accident, including any injuries. Both Uber and Lyft provide coverage for those injured while using their services.
How to spot fake ridesharing drivers
1. Ensure the make, model and color of the car matches the Uber/Lyft description.
2. Ensure that the license plate matches. If the license plate does not match, take a picture of the license plate, do not get in the car, and report the incident to local police.
3. Make sure that the driver matches their picture in the app and ask them their name prior to getting into the vehicle. If they don't resemble their photo and/or they don't provide the correct name, do not enter the vehicle and notify the authorities.
4. Do not enter the vehicle until you ask the driver "Who are you here for?". The driver is always provided with the name of the person they are picking up. If the driver cannot identify you by name, then do not enter the vehicle. Photograph the license plate and report the incident to the police.4