With apps such as Uber reaching over 100 million downloads, it’s safe to say that most people are familiar with “ridesharing” and its rising popularity. Many of us can say we have either used a rideshare service or know someone who has.
For those who haven’t, rideshare services are strongly comparable to a taxi mixed with the added convenience of today’s technology. A user can download an app such as Uber or Lyft and request instant transportation by entering their destination. A driver in the area then receives the request and if they accept it, they will arrive within minutes to transport you to your desired location.
A few ways that rideshares differ from taxis is that drivers use their own vehicles and all payment transactions are done through the app. Almost anyone can become a rideshare driver to make money in their spare time. A potential driver must consent to a check of their driving record and criminal history, provide a valid license, and own an eligible 4 door vehicle. All of this screening is done online and if approved, a driver is ready to hit the road.
Seems pretty simple, right? When the process is followed by both rider and driver, it is! Unfortunately, however, that is not always the case. Though not extremely common, there have been reports of incidences where drivers show aggression through assault, attempted kidnapping, or indecent exposure. Some are still grieving the loss of a college student who earlier this year mistakenly got into the car of a man pretending to be an Uber driver.
But these things don’t mean we should avoid ridesharing and its many benefits, it means that we should be more vigilant. This means knowing and implementing ways that we can make our rideshare experience a safer one. Here are a few tips you can use to stay safe on your next rideshare trip.
5 Rideshare App Safety Tips To Always Follow
1. Check driver ratings.
Both Lyft and Uber allow riders to rate their driver after each trip. Once someone signs up with Uber, their rating starts at 5 stars. Anything lower than 5 stars means they have received a negative rating from a previous rider.
Simple things can happen to make a rider unhappy, such as they didn’t enjoy the music being played, so that should be taken into consideration when reviewing. However, a low overall rating for a driver is a telltale sign that more than one person may have had a bad experience.
If you aren’t comfortable with a driver’s rating after selecting them you can cancel the trip. If you do this, make sure to do it within two minutes to avoid a fee. You can learn more about how driver ratings are calculated here.
2. Confirm your driver and their car.
Once you select a driver, the rideshare app you’re using allows you to access the driver’s details. This includes your driver’s name, their photo, a photo of their car with make and model listed, and the car’s license plate number. Make sure you utilize this tool.
When your driver gets there, don’t feel rushed to jump in. Make sure to confirm that each detail matches with the info you were given, it only takes a minute. If something is different, do not feel pressured to go with that driver.
Also, make sure you contact the rideshare app host to let them know about the discrepancies so that they can contact the driver and update their information.
3. Share your location.
Some rideshare apps allow you to share your location with any family member or friend you chose. It’s called “follow my ride”
To activate in Uber:
- Go to settings – select ‘follow my ride’
- Beside ‘follow my ride’, turn the switch to the on position
- During navigation, tap the pin icon. A blue check means your navigation is being shared
To share this information with anyone:
- Go to settings – select ‘follow my ride’
- Click on ‘select contacts’
- Search for and select the people you want to share your trip with
You can turn this feature off at any time by selecting “stop sharing.” This is a great feature with the safety of the rider in mind. It allows whoever you select to know where you are during your entire trip. If this feature isn’t offered, it is a good idea to keep in contact with someone during your trip. Let them know when you left and confirm when you’ve arrived.
4. Stay aware.
During rideshare trips, most drivers have their phone visible on the dash. This allows them and you to see the map of your route during the trip. If you can’t see their phone make sure to keep your map open and stay aware of your surroundings.
Accidents happen and a driver could miss a turn. However, if the driver takes a different turn than what the map says and suggests a different route or shortcut, tell them you want to keep your route and let someone know immediately. If you don’t feel safe, try to get out of the vehicle as soon, and as safely, as possible.
5. Don’t share personal information.
We all partake in small talk at some point during our day to fill a silence or lighten a mood.
During a long ride, it’s not uncommon for a driver to strike up a conversation. If you’re comfortable talking about the weather then go for it! But, always be conscious of the conversation if it turns more personal. You are not required to talk to a driver or give them any of your information such as where you work, your full name, your phone number, where you live, or how long you may be staying somewhere.
You don’t have to be rude but make sure to keep it light and if at any time you get uncomfortable, end the conversation there.
If you do feel uncomfortable, call a friend or family member. Having someone else on the phone can deter conversation from your driver.
We hope by using these five steps you’ll feel more confident and at ease in your next rideshare. Also, most rideshare tools like some of those listed above were created with your safety in mind. Make sure to use them and tell your friends about them too! If you have any questions about tools, any issues, or concerns, please contact your rideshare host.
If you’re ever in a situation where you feel that you’re in immediate danger please contact 911.