Rideshare services, such as Uber and Lyft, have become a widely-known and commonly-used amenity in this day and age. These services serve as a major convenience in a lot of circumstances, such as where parking may be difficult to find or expensive, where weather may be too inclement for walking to another location, or when you are in an unfamiliar city and may not have access to a vehicle or be sure where you are going. They have also helped to increase safety by providing an easy and affordable alternative for those who may have consumed alcoholic beverages and should not be behind the wheel. People can plan ahead to have a fun and safe night out in pretty much any city and state, and can easily access a secure ride in case of an emergency or other unexpected situation that requires transportation. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure your own personal safety and security while utilizing rideshare services.
Check vehicle information before getting into the car
Always check to make sure that the vehicle you are about to enter is the same make, model, and color as the one identified on your app before opening the door to get into it. Verify that the license plate matches the state and number on the app. This will help ensure that the driver of the vehicle is one that has been checked and approved to work for the rideshare service, and that you are not being scammed or putting yourself at risk. Though those situations are unlikely, it is always better to be safe than sorry and to take the few extra moments to double-check your vehicle’s information, even if you feel rushed to get into the vehicle and on your way. On a less risky note, doing this can also save you the embarrassment of trying to get into the wrong vehicle, or even worse, a vehicle that is not even a rideshare, which happens more than many people may think!
Schedule your pick-up for a safe location
Avoid requesting your driver to pick you up in a location that can pose safety risks to you, the driver, or other pedestrians or drivers. While it can be more convenient to try to have the driver pick you up at the exact location you are waiting, avoid scheduling your pick-up where it would require your driver to stop in traffic, make any kind of risky or illegal turn or stop, or impede pedestrians, such as in a crosswalk or over a sidewalk. You should also try to arrange for pick-up in a well-lit area, and wait inside if you can. Waiting outside with your phone in hand could indicate to scammers that you are waiting for a ride or could distract you from paying attention to your surroundings.
The same goes for drop-offs. Never get out of the car on the side of traffic or if you see any oncoming vehicles. Wait until the car has come to a complete stop in the appropriate location to exit the vehicle.
Pay attention to your route while on the ride
Uber and Lyft provide GPS services and pre-planned routes to help them deliver riders to their destination, so it can be easy to zone out and be immersed in your phone or conversation with a companion while you are riding, but keep an eye on where you are headed while in the car to ensure that nothing is amiss. Most drivers will also welcome suggestions for alternate routes if you are aware of a construction or road closing that GPS may not identify or the driver may not know about, so don’t be afraid to make that suggestion if necessary.
Use good judgment in determining if a rideshare is appropriate
While rideshares are undoubtedly an excellent choice to avoid driving while intoxicated, if you or a companion are excessively intoxicated, making other arrangements to get home safely or waiting until you have gained your bearings a bit more is often the wise choice. In addition to concerns about your own personal safety, particularly if you are riding alone, taking a rideshare if you are significantly intoxicated can put the driver in an uncomfortable situation where they too may feel unsafe dealing with their passenger in the event the passenger becomes physically ill, falls asleep, or otherwise acts in an unruly manner during their ride.
Report incidents to the rideshare company
Rideshare companies generally take the safety of both their riders and drivers seriously, and have easy ways to report an issue, incident, or concern to the company through the app. If something happens that makes you or a riding companion feel unsafe, including that your driver has engaged in risky driving behaviors, makes inappropriate comments, or that the vehicle seems in disrepair or did not match the description you were given, you should report the situation to the company. This helps to keep safety a key component of ridesharing, and helps ensure that the benefits of the service far outweigh any risks.