Staying safe while sharing rides

It is 1:00 A.M. As you walk out of the restaurant, you realize that you need a ride home. You had a fun night with your friends and you know you shouldn’t drive. After comparing rideshare prices between Uber and Lyft, you connect with a driver who is headed your way. Like all users, you trust this person to get you home safely.

As an Uber or Lyft driver, you receive a new ride request. After looking at your phone, you accept the ride and make your way to pick up the rider. As you approach the rider, she looks like someone who would be safe for you to drive. You trust this person to allow you to get her home safely.

pulling up Uber rideshare on the cell phone

This exchange happens daily. According to Uber and Lyft, millions of rides occur each year. Each driver that picks up a rider, and each rider that gets into the car, has one goal in mind, to get to the destination safely. The vast majority of these rides do end safely, 5-star ratings are exchanged, and both driver and rider go their separate ways.   But all too often these days, we read and hear about stories where the rides did not end safely.

Between 2017 and 2018, multiple individuals posing as Uber drivers abducted and assaulted women. In July of 2018, Elizabeth Suarez got into what she thought was her Uber after a night out in Las Vegas. The driver took her to a deserted parking lot and robbed her. A man posing as an Uber driver stabbed 21-year-old Samantha Josephson to death. The danger faced by Uber/Lyft users is not exclusive to the riders. Just this year, an Uber rider attacked his driver by choking him. In Raleigh, North Carolina, a rider attacked his Uber driver, punching and hitting the driver in the face and head.

What can be done to prevent the dangers inherent in allowing complete strangers into your vehicle? What can be done to prevent the dangers inherent in getting into a complete stranger’s car?

For Riders:

  • Make sure the vehicle picking you up matches the vehicle description provided in the Uber/Lyft application. It seems straight-forward but many of us do not do this.
  • If the license plate does not match the license plate on the application, do not get into the vehicle, no matter what the driver tells you.
  • Make the driver address you by your name before getting into the vehicle. The Uber/Lyft driver has your real name, a fake driver does not.
  • Do not stand out by a curb until you receive a message that your car is there and waiting for you. You make yourself a target to fake drivers by standing by a curb waiting for a ride.
  • Let your friends and/or family know that you’re getting into an Uber or Lyft. Share your location using the application or through the use of other GPS phone applications.
  • Never get into a vehicle if it does not have an Uber or Lyft sticker prominently displayed in the windows.
  • Notify police immediately if a driver becomes violent.

For Drivers:

  • Verify that the person entering your vehicle is the rider displayed on your application
  • Purchase and use an in-vehicle camera with off-site data collection. Prominently display the camera facing the passenger compartment. It might be enough to prevent a rider from becoming violent or disruptive. It also preserves evidence that can be used later.
  • Share your location while driving.
  • Be selective with the rides you accept. Turn down riders with low ratings as those ratings exist for a reason.
  • Be selective with the locations to which you are called and the locations to which you are expected to drive. For destinations, Lyft and Uber drivers are only shown how far a location is if it is over 45 minutes away. Drivers are not shown the final destination until they pick up the passenger. However, as a rideshare driver, if you do not feel comfortable traveling to specific locations, cancel the ride.
  • If you are an Uber driver, utilize the emergency assistance button displayed on your phone application.
  • Notify police immediately if a rider becomes violent.

For both riders and drivers, if you are involved in a situation where you have sustained injuries as a result of a ride-share interaction, the law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen and Allen stands ready to help. Contact us for a free consultation.