Taking an Uber or Lyft is a great way to get around town without a car—not to mention a responsible choice to make if you’ve been drinking. So if you’re heading out to Miami Beach or South Beach or going shopping at the Aventura Mall to unwind after a long week of classes, you may call a ridesharing service.
Unfortunately, some drivers, instead of keeping their passengers safe, drive recklessly or even, at their worst, assault their passengers.
According to CNN, more than 100 cases have been reported of Uber and Lyft drivers sexually assaulting their passengers. One woman claims that the Uber driver responsible for taking her to the Philadelphia airport was driving intoxicated. Another Uber driver—this one off duty, but still driving an Uber car—attempted to kidnap and assault a passenger in Pittsburgh. With issues like these, how can you keep yourself safe when you get into an Uber or Lyft car?
Tip #1: Get in the Car Assigned to You
Uber only allows you to summon a ride from inside the app, so there’s no reason for a car to pull up and offer you a ride unless it’s the one that you’ve been waiting for. The app will also give you information about the car that’s coming for you, including its license plate number and a description of and name for the driver. Make sure that all of these key details match the car before you get in. Lyft also offers an oval-shaped device in their car that will help you identify the right driver: the Amp, which is made out of multiple LED lights, will change colors to match the one in your app so that you can be sure you’re getting in the right car. The Amp is located on the dashboard of each Lyft car.
Tip #2: Choose Your Spot
When you get in the car, if you’re riding by yourself, opt to sit in the back seat of the car. Not only does this put more distance between you and your driver, it leaves you with more options if you need to get out of the car in a hurry.
Tip #3: Share a Ride if You Can
If you have the option to share your ride with a friend, do it! Traveling in groups is always safer than traveling by yourself, especially if you’re feeling a little squirmy about your trip. When you’re intoxicated, it’s always better to ride with a friend to help keep you safer.
Tip #4: Use Basic Road Safety
When you get in the car, put on your seat belt. This will help keep you safer in the event of an emergency. Avoid distracting the driver, including sudden movements, leaning into the front seat to get their attention, making sudden loud noises, or using the flash on your camera or camera phone while the car is in motion. Treat your driver with respect: a calm driver will typically perform better behind the wheel than one who feels nervous or uncertain.
Tip #5: Trust Your Gut
Even when you’re intoxicated, those gut feelings are important. Often, they’ll tell you if something isn’t what it seems to be. When in doubt, don’t take the ride. Ask to get out of the car in a public, well-lit area if you suspect that the driver isn’t acting appropriately. Trusting your gut instincts can go a long way toward keeping you out of trouble in a bad situation.
Tip #6: Rate Your Driver
Have you had an uncomfortable—or downright bad—experience with an Uber or Lyft driver? While you might not be able to go back and choose another driver for yourself, you can ensure that others don’t have a similar experience in the future. Take the time to rate your driver. Both Uber and Lyft will take action if their drivers’ ratings go below a specific level. Note that you can check your driver’s rating before getting in the car, so if you’re not comfortable with the one you’ve been assigned, you can cancel your car and book another one.
Tip #7: Tell Someone Where You Are
Any time you’re out at night by yourself, you should take care to share your plans. This is helpful whether you’re heading out to a campus event or you’re off to a restaurant: when someone knows where you are and when you’re expected to be back, they’re more likely to summon help if you don’t show up on time! Both Uber and Lyft also offer options that will allow you to share your route with friends and family members so that they’ll know where you are and when you’re expected to arrive home.
Tip #8: Track Your Route
You’ve told your driver where you’re headed. If you’re in a familiar area, you probably have a pretty good idea of how to get to your destination. On the other hand, if you’re in an unfamiliar city, you may find it difficult to figure out whether or not the driver is taking you where you want to be. Open up the map app on your phone and follow along. If the driver deviates substantially from where you think they ought to be going, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or end the ride.
Tip #9: Don’t Overshare
It’s natural to get a little chatty with your driver, especially if you’re the only ones in the car. You don’t need to share everything. Neither Uber nor Lyft will require you to offer your phone number to the driver for any reason: if you need to communicate, they’ll send the call through the app from an anonymous number. Try to avoid telling your driver if you’re in an unfamiliar city or if there’s no one waiting for you, since this could be a signal that your disappearance wouldn’t be noticed. Keep your personal details to yourself. In the long run, it will help keep you safer!
In spite of the best safety precautions, you may find that your Uber or Lyft ride isn’t as safe as you originally thought. If an Uber or Lyft driver assaulted you, hire the right legal representation to meet your needs and protect your rights. Contact us today at (305) 964-8806 to learn how we may be able to advocate for you.