Safety Tips For Using Uber & Lyft
On March 29, 2019, people all over the nation were shaken to the core as the death of USC student Samantha Josephson broke the news. After separating from her friends and calling an Uber in order to leave a popular college bar in the early morning hours, she mistakenly entered a car that was not her Uber. The driver trapped her in the back seat with the child safety locks and ultimately killed her.
Although the man behind this unspeakable crime was not a licensed rideshare driver at all, it has since revved up the growing concern about what safety measures companies such as Uber and Lyft are doing to make sure this never happens again.
Just recently, Uber has rolled out new safety features in the wake of Josephson’s murder and also after lawsuits were filed against them by three women in Los Angeles. These women claim they were sexually assaulted outside of bars and nightclubs by men also posing as Uber drivers.
I never thought about rideshare safety before Josephson’s murder. Riding in an Uber or Lyft was something that seemed so normalized and harmless. It’s how thousands of people, including myself, get home safe after a fun night out. Many things changed on that night, and now safety measures are at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Our main goal at Undercover Colors is to keep you safe. While our product is focused on your safety while you’re in the bar, safety doesn’t stop there. It also includes your transportation home. There are certainly additional safety features rideshare apps could and will add in the months and years to come, but you should also follow these tips to keep safe while you’re traveling home.
- Order Your Ride Before Leaving
You should do your best to limit your time standing alone waiting for your driver to arrive, especially if you’re in a dimly lit location. Instead, call for an Uber or Lyft before you leave the bar, nightclub or party that you’re attending. The drivers will always call you when they arrive at the meeting point if they don’t see you right away, so you can wait with your group of friends until you receive the notification.
- Check the License Plate Number, Make and Model of the Car
Once you call for an Uber or Lyft and match with a nearby driver, their photo, license plate number and vehicle description will pop up in your app. Once they arrive, you should always double-check this information before getting into the vehicle. We realize that after a long night out of heavy drinking, it might be difficult to remember tips like these, especially if you’re tired and just want to get home. Fortunately, Uber just announced that they will be using more persistent push notifications that will remind you in the moment to check your ride and make sure the given information matches up with the vehicle you’re getting into.
- Ask the Driver, “What’s my name?”
Or ask, “Who is this ride for?” before you get into the vehicle. Only your designated driver would know the answer to this question. Never get into a vehicle and say, “Is this ride for (your name)?” If the driver of the car is not who they claim to be, this gives them a way to seem legitimate by saying “yes”. If the driver cannot answer the question of who the ride is for, DO NOT get into the car. A licensed Uber or Lyft driver following the company’s procedures will never give a ride to someone who was not requested and approved through the app ahead of time. Never get in the car with someone who isn’t your approved driver.
- Ride in the Back
This one is up for some debate. There seem to be just as many people who recommend siting in the front as sitting in the back. While sitting in the front is more personable and makes conversing with your driver easier, sitting in the back allows you to exit on either side of the car to avoid traffic and puts you out of arms reach of the driver. If you do decide to sit in the back and are riding by yourself, it is recommended that you sit behind the passenger seat side. Many rideshare drivers have voiced that they have felt most unsafe when a single rider sits behind them, as it puts them in the most vulnerable position.
- Ride With Friends
Not only is sharing an Uber or Lyft with your friends cheaper than riding alone, it’s also safer. We talk about “safety in numbers” often when it comes to a night out, and your ride back home is no different. Uber and Lyft is, of course, designed to be safe for solo travelers, but the best way to ensure your safety on your way home is to do it with friends. Both Uber and Lyft allow passengers to add multiple stops mid-trip through the App, so even if you and your friend are traveling to two different locations, you can still ride together for the majority of the way.
- Keep Your Friends Updated
Sometimes, riding with friends just isn’t an option if your final destination is in a completely different place. If you are riding in an Uber or Lyft alone, there are a couple of things you should know about for your safety. In both the Uber and Lyft apps, you can share updates about your trip status and location with family and friends. Both Uber and Lyft also have an in-app emergency assistance button that will call 911 and display your location and trip details to your local police, including the driver’s license plate number.
If your experience in a rideshare vehicle seems off, request that they drop you off immediately and instead call a friend for a ride home. Companies like Uber and Lyft rely on customer feedback and have a zero-tolerance policy for any behavior that makes the customer feel threatened, so make sure you report your driver right away. After each ride, you’ll receive a notification asking you to rate your overall experience. This is where you can leave your feedback. Always trust your instincts and your judgment and call 911 if you feel you are in immediate danger.