Ordering an Uber or catching a Lyft is a lot like online dating. Everyone is doing it these days, and no one wants to think about their safety until a robbery or murder is sensationalized through social media newsfeeds. There are clear benefits to using rideshare services, but it’s important to take a few cautionary measures to ensure your safety before, during and after the ride.
Make Sure Your Driver Is Legit
The rate of people getting into the wrong vehicle on crowded streets has possibly skyrocketed now that ride sharing is so common, but a safe ride always begins with finding a legitimate driver who is waiting for you and only you.
If you’re using Uber, you will receive a picture of your driver along with details regarding their vehicle through the app. Look at the picture so that you know who you’re looking for, and then compare the license plate number given in the app to the license plate on the car before you get in. This only takes a second and ensures that you’re getting into a legitimate Uber and that the app knows who you’re with and where you’re going.
If you take other ride share services, you should have similar ways to verify that you’re with the right person at the right time. If you do nothing else to protect your safety, make sure that you’re getting into a legit vehicle each and every time.
Don’t Ride in Secret
Most people know to tell a friend or two where they’re going when meeting someone from an online dating site or even a blind date arranged by a trusted third party. Why would you not do the same thing when you’re getting into a stranger’s vehicle and allowing them complete control of your journey?
Make it a habit to send a quick text to someone close to you before and after taking a ride. Something simple like, “Getting in the Uber” and “I’m here” will work. Let your friends know that you’re willing to accept those messages to keep them safe as well.
Don’t Ride Solo and Impaired
It’s common for young adults to treat rideshares like designated drivers, but there are some clear differences. In most cases, you won’t know your driver personally. You’re counting on the rideshare service to do their job checking backgrounds for all drivers, but they aren’t obligated by law to continuously check driver backgrounds for new criminal charges. Drivers with clean background checks initially may not look so clean years later.
This doesn’t mean that ride shares are unsafe. It just means that you shouldn’t consider a rideshare driver just as safe as a known designated driver. Stay safe by never taking a rideshare solo while you’re intoxicated. If you’re even a little drunk, you’re more vulnerable to attack or abuse.
If you want to use ride shares after a night out, try to travel in a group with everyone getting out at the same location. Spend the night with someone you trust or invite them to stay with you, ensuring that you’re together for the entire ride home.
If you do ride solo and impaired, absolutely make sure that you send at least one trustworthy person the license plate number and name of your driver. Let them know when you’ve arrived safely at home as well.
Watch the Route
One benefit of taking a rideshare is the ability to make a phone call, send a few text messages or otherwise do something productive during your commute. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look out the window to make sure that your driver is going along the expected route. If they head in the opposite direction of your destination or make a wrong turn, you want to know about it before it’s too late.
In most cases, a wrong turn will simply mean the driver is lost or confused on the directions. This doesn’t happen often since drivers should have GPS, but you want to speak up and get your driver back on course if a detour is taken. A driver who doesn’t respond to your instructions to get back on track is sending you a serious red flag, and you should consider it a threat to your safety and act accordingly.
Don’t Dismiss Reviews, Ratings & Gut Instinct
These are three things that young adults dismiss far too often. Read the reviews and ratings left for your rideshare driver, and trust that the experience of others will likely become your own experience. It’s easy to write off a few negative ratings or disgruntled riders because you’re in a hurry and don’t want to wait for a second driver, but your safety is always more important than the minutes you spend waiting.
The same goes for your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right. Don’t get in the car or find a way to get out quickly if you’re already riding. Many young adults don’t do this because they don’t want to seem rude or hurt someone’s feelings, but again, your safety is more important. Listen to your gut because that instinct is your guide to a safe and happy life.
Finally, don’t ride in the front seat of a rideshare if you’re riding alone. This places you within arm’s reach of the driver, which increases your risk of being groped or otherwise violated physically. Sit in the back and remain friendly with the driver from a safe distance.