Ride-Sharing Safety: What You Need to Know

Scott Repasky
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While you may be tempted to relax on a ride to your destination, remember that accidents can and do happen. Your ride-sharing driver may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted by something in the car, or perhaps just in a car that is not in good shape. The first thing to remember is that you need to stay alert and to keep your eyes on the road. Do your best to speak up if you are uncomfortable and don’t be afraid to demand that your driver stop the car if you are in danger (even if you are in the middle of nowhere).

While the ride-share industry is regulated, it is not immune from accidents. Injuries, including even deaths, have occurred in accidents involving ride-share drivers. The most recent accident involving one of the largest ride-share companies is said to have involved a driver who was streaming videos while operating the app. Some safety advocates have even gone as far as to demand that ride-share drivers all be required to install dash cams in their cars to ensure accountability and to protect passengers.

Physical Assault

What to do

If you feel your personal safety is threatened in any way, contact the local authorities for advice. BEEP recommends that you do not engage in physical altercation, if at all possible, to prevent anyone from getting hurt.

If you are in immediate danger, contact the local authorities before picking anyone up; let them know you are picking someone up and that you are concerned about your safety. Also, disclose to the company that you have made a police report about the incident.

Also, if you are threatened with physical violence or bodily harm, call the police and then contact the company.

Do you have an emergency button? If not, ask about the availability of an emergency button. If it’s not available for the safety of the drivers and passengers, consider using an app that features an SOS button and GPS tracking, like BEEP or Lyft.

While it’s not common for drivers to do so, you can also request to see the public passenger rating of the driver you are about to get in the car with.

Can you get the car’s license plate, and send it to the authorities? Some companies will provide it electronically. If you don’t have that option, write it down on paper.

If you feel unsafe at any time, let the company know.

Sexual Assault

Do you share a ride with a ride-share service? Unfortunately, sexual assault, rape, and other violent crimes against passengers using ride-sharing services, are on the rise. Since 2012, the reported number of sexual assault cases for the Pennsylvania Uber-X company were up more than 400%.

Incidents include:

A woman in Miami said she received a request from a driver at 2 am to pick up her friend. She agreed. Meanwhile the driver was texting his friend saying his friend was drunk and had just been sexually assaulted.

A woman in Toronto said she was assaulted by her ride-share driver after dropping her friends off home. She reported the incident and was told Uber tracked down the driver. Except he was not charged because the woman had to agree to specific and legally binding terms and conditions that included going to a specific address. The person who claims to be assaulted sent her home, so although he had a phone and an address, she had not given him permission to go there. Thus, she had never agreed to the terms.

A woman in Boston was allegedly sexually assaulted by her ride-share driver. He was charged with two counts of rape.

What About Lyft?

Lyft is a ride-hailing service similar to Uber or Sidecar. It’s growing fast and has tapped into the on-demand economy trend where people rely on services like Zipcar to find local car rentals for their every day adventures. Lyft works a little differently than Uber or Sidecar to get riders and drivers together.

In order to request service through Lyft, you have to download an app and create an account. Once you have registered, you can input the information about the ride you need and then choose a driver to pick you up. You can also create a profile picture, type in your credit card information, and make a note about the type of service you’re offering to help other riders and drivers recognize your car.

So … Are Ride-Sharing Apps Safe?

There are several horror stories out there about people who have used a ride-sharing app and been attacked, raped or murdered by the driver. Sadly, this happens, but it is very rare. In most cases, the driver is completely innocent and unaware of any wrongdoing. This rarely results in action against them, since the customer is often intoxicated and not remembering anything. The worst of it can happen to anyone who uses these services, no matter how careful you may be. If you follow our tips, how to use ride-sharing apps safely can protect you.

Ride-Sharing Safety Tips

In the past few years, carpooling has become increasingly popular. Ridesharing allows people to alleviate traffic congestion, save money in gas mileage, and help the environment by taking fewer cars off the road. However, like all things, there are additional safety concerns to consider.

When using ride-sharing services, be aware of the following things that you should focus on:

Rideshare software is sophisticated enough to estimate travel times and distances, which means that cars will be more evenly dispersed between drivers and riders. This is awesome for those who want to maximize the efficiency of their trip and save some money. But it can also mean that the driver may become complacent in their driving and/or the rider may begin to cut corners with their own safety, such as texting while being on a ride.

Drivers have people in their cars who they don’t know, and Rider’s rates are often determined by the popularity of their rating as determined by the company. Neither of these aspects puts drivers in a particularly safe position. If you are going to use a ride-sharing service, make sure that you are not the only passenger in the vehicle and that the driver is not distracted.

The drivers of these vehicles are not legally allowed to carry passengers in their cars, which means that these people are operating outside of the law. This means that accidents caused by these drivers will not be compensated.