City dwellers, students, travelers and citizens without vehicles of their own often rely on ride-hailing services such as Uber or Lyft to get from one place to the next.
But with all the news stories involving imposter drivers, driver-involved assaults and violent altercations, passengers should take some precautions before getting into the vehicle.
Tips to stay safe while ridesharing
Here are some safety tips for passengers when using a rideshare service:
Confirm the name of the driver and make of the vehicle
There have been several cases of people posing as drivers, but both Uber and Lyft offer passengers details such as the driver’s name, their photo and car type.
According to Campbell Matthews, a Lyft representative, the company also offers an “amplified” way to identify your driver.
Lyft drivers have a bright, color-changing pill-shaped device (called the Amp) made of multiple LED lights on their dashboards.
The color in your Lyft app will match the color of the Amp in your driver’s car.
Before getting in the car, make sure you’re getting in the right one.
Check the driver’s rating
Just like you’re less likely to sign a lease on an apartment known for its low management or maintenance ratings and reviews, rideshare ratings can be used to determine the quality and safety of your ride.
Rideshare apps give passengers their potential driver’s ratings ahead of the car’s arrival, so if you’re uncomfortable with the rating, cancel your ride and call another.
Share your trip details with friends or family
According to Uber, you’re able to tap “Share status” in the mobile app and share your driver’s name, photo, license plate and location with a friend or family member.
They can then track your trip without downloading the Uber app.
Lyft users can tap the “Send ETA” icon on the bottom bar, which will send a text message to family or friends with a link to your current route and location.
If your ride-hailing service doesn’t offer a quick status or ETA share, snap a photo of the vehicle’s license plate and send the photo (and any additional details) to a family member or friend.
Avoid riding in the front seat
Passengers (especially women) who ride up front have been on the receiving end of assaults, groping and other aggressive, unwanted behavior, according to Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association spokesman Dave Sutton.
Follow along in your own maps app
Open up your own maps tool, enter your destination and follow along, noting any odd route shifts.
Travel in groups when possible
There’s often safety in numbers. Try riding with a friend or two or consider using the carpool option some ride-hailing services offer (Uber Pool, Lyft Line).
Trust your gut
If you have an inkling of discomfort or sense something fishy, don’t get in the car. If you’re already on the road and are in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.