Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft have become wildly popular. And they’re only getting more so, with Uber reporting 1.3 billion rides in the U.S. for 2018 and Lyft close behind with 1 billion riders picked up. And that’s despite Uber divulging in December that over 3,000 sexual assaults were reported during rides in 2018. Granted, that constitutes a teensy fraction of those 1.3 billion rides, but it’s still enough to give pause.
So, is Uber safe?
It’s worth noting that 99.9 percent of Uber rides were safe in 2018, and that tracking and publishing data on assaults helps make the entire rideshare industry safer. Even Uber drivers themselves encounter problems on the road, though, and have gone public with rideshare safety tips for female drivers.
Women generally have to think about their safety in public more than men do, but anyone can be the victim of a crime or an accident. Young or old, male or female, black, white or brown, we’re all a little vulnerable when we get into a car alone with a stranger.
Luckily, there are strategies that can make you safer while you enjoy the freedom and relatively low cost of ridesharing. There’s no way to avoid all accidents or potential dangers, but developing certain habits can keep you aware of your surroundings and better able to handle the unexpected.
The safety experts at SABRE have put together 7 Rideshare Safety Tips to help you stay as safe as possible if you choose to use a service like Uber or Lyft.
1. Wait safely.
There’s no need to stand alone out on the street while you wait for your Uber or Lyft, so stay inside, preferably with other people, until you see on the app that the car has arrived. There’s a several minute window for you to make your way to the car, and the ride is more specifically for you than a taxi would be, so you don’t need to worry about the driver going off with a different fare. Go out to meet them at the last moment.
2. Ask for your name.
Before getting into the car, ask the driver what your name is. If it’s the actual rideshare service you ordered, the driver will know your name and your destination, so let them say it first without you giving it away. Also verify the make, model and license plate number before approaching the car, and match your driver to their photo before getting in. An Uber or Lyft sticker is not the most reliable indicator of authenticity.
3. Share your rideshare, but keep your distance.
It’s true that there is strength in numbers, so getting a ride with a group is a great safety choice — but only if it’s a group you know — plus you can split the cost. Whether you’re alone or not, keep your distance from the driver a bit by not divulging any personal info like your last name or social media handles. If you live alone, consider getting picked up or dropped off at a safe, public nearby location to keep your address under wraps. And there is never a reason to give an Uber or Lyft driver your credit card or cash.
4. Take your seat.
The back seat is safest if you’re ridesharing alone, and the passenger side has many advantages. Not only is it safer to enter and exit a car on the side closest to the curb, but from the back passenger side you’ll be able to keep an eye on the driver and have a little more physical distance from them. Plus, you’ll have two potential exit points with the two back doors.
5. Be aware of what’s going on.
Though it’s a good idea to get a ride if you’ve had too much to drink, getting into a rideshare alone when you’re drunk is very dangerous — and not just for women! Everyone should always be aware of their surroundings when they’re out alone, and that includes getting into an Uber or Lyft. Bringing a more sober friend along for the ride makes you both safer.
6. Have an exit strategy.
Whether it’s a traffic accident on the street or a personal attack inside the car, something bad might happen during your ride. That’s when you’ve got to be prepared with multiple ways of getting out or getting away. You may need to cut through a malfunctioning safety belt, break the car door window or douse the driver with pepper spray — so you’ll need to think about an exit strategy ahead of time. The Safe Escape 3-in-1 Automotive Tool from SABRE gives you options like these when you need them most.
7. Pay it forward.
Reporting odd, creepy, aggressive or dangerous drivers helps remove them from the pool and create better rideshare safety for all of us. Don’t hesitate to report anything that happens on a rideshare, even if you managed to escape harm. The next rider might not be so lucky.
For Uber sexual assaults:
Conger, Kate. “Uber Says 3,045 Sexual Assaults Were Reported in U.S. Rides Last Year.” 05 Dec. 2019. The New York Times. Accessed 06 Feb. 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/05/technology/uber-sexual-assaults-murders-deaths-safety.html
For Lyft 2018 statistic:
Iqbal, Mansoor. “Lyft Revenue and Usage Statistics (2019).” 29 Apr. 2019. The Business of Apps. Accessed 06 Feb. 2020. https://www.businessofapps.com/data/lyft-statistics/