Ridesharing has become a staple for many in order to get from point A to point B without having to utilize public transportation or a taxi service, with just a few taps on a smartphone. While ridesharing through Uber or Lyft still remains a popular alternative to driving or using public transportation, these services can also be dangerous for the riders using them. Being aware of available safety measures to practice each time an Uber, Lyft, or other ridesharing service is hailed can help protect riders from potential harm.
Ridesharing Safety Concerns
Safety concerns regarding different ridesharing services have been top of mind since the early 2010s. Uber and Lyft – the most popular ride-hailing services – have had numerous complaints filed against them regarding people impersonating drivers to sexually assault passengers. Though both companies have put out statements regarding these incidents, along with promises to update their apps with further protections for passengers, dangerous rides unfortunately continue. Some of the biggest concerns and risks for riders can include:
Criminals who impersonate Uber or Lyft drivers pose an incredible threat to unsuspecting riders. Just last year, University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson got into a car she mistook for her Uber and was killed hours later by a man posing as her driver.
Risk of car accidents
Typically when a rider gets into a car associated with a rideshare app, they assume the chance of an accident is much lower than if they themselves were driving. This isn’t the case, however, as the chances of a car accident remain just as high as if the rider were driving his or her own vehicle sober.
Insufficient background checks
Some of the background checking methods utilized by Uber and Lyft are inadequate. A 2018 investigation by CNN found at least 103 Uber drivers in the preceding four years had been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers.
Safety Tips When Ridesharing
With this information in mind, understanding the different safety measures riders can have in their back pocket while ridesharing can help keep them protected and get to their destinations safely. These include:
Having a safe place to wait
Because rideshare apps have features that tell riders exactly where their driver is, it’s important to wait for your driver in a safe space until he or she arrives. Requesting a ride while waiting inside a home or business that is well lit, comfortable, and in public helps keep riders protected from those who may fraudulently pose as the ride they’re waiting on.
Ask for your name
It’s incredibly important that riders never get into an Uber, Lyft, or any other rideshare vehicle unless the driver can first identify the rider by name. This is because rideshare apps provide the diver with the rider’s name, pickup location, and sometimes a picture. If they’re the actual driver, they’ll be able to identify who they’re there to pickup.
Check license plates
Riders must be prepared to identify the make, model, and most importantly license plate of the driver’s car based off of what the rideshare app tells you. As there are many popular makes and models of vehicles, matching the license plate to what is listed on the app is a vital step toward verifying the validity of your driver.
Utilize trip-sharing app features
Popular ridesharing apps such as Lyft and Uber offer in-app trip sharing features that allow riders to share live updates on the trip with trusted friends. By hitting “share trip status” in Uber or “share route” in Lyft, the rider can send their location information during their trip to trusted friends or family members.
Make the driver aware that they’re being tracked
Riders can give drivers an indication that people are looking out for them. Making a phone call to a friend or family member or creating a voice memo to trick the driver into assuming you’re talking to someone will let them know people are aware their loved one is utilizing a rideshare service.
Be careful of where you sit
While most people who use rideshare services sit in the back of the vehicle in order to keep their distance from the driver and have multiple exit options, all vehicles and situations are different. In a larger car, choosing a seat with easy access to the door and a good vantage point of the driver and the road ahead can help riders exit the vehicle in the event things turn sour. If riders feel safer in the front seat, it shouldn’t be an issue for the driver; and it should be considered a red flag if a driver tries to force the rider into a certain seat.
Don’t share personal information
It is incredibly important that riders refrain from sharing any personal information with an Uber or Lyft driver. If the rider needs to communicate with the driver before they arrive, do so via the app without giving any contact information, social media handles, or a last name. In the event the driver asks the rider if the destination they are picked up from or dropped off at is their home, it is wise to say it’s actually the home of a friend or significant other.
Houston Ridesharing Injury Attorney
Though rideshare apps remain a convenient method for many to get around town, they should be used with caution. Time and again there have been instances of kidnapping and assault by those thought to be trusted drivers. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident or assault with a rideshare driver, the experienced Houston injury attorneys at Ramsey Law Group can help. Contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can help you.