The ride-share industry has transformed transportation. It is now possible to order a ride on-demand with a few taps of a button. Yet the ride-share industry also has drawbacks, such as risks involved with the lack of full background checks on drivers. Staying safe in an Uber or Lyft takes some vigilance on your part as a rider.
If you are a first-time Uber or Lyft user, do some research as to what to expect. You should know how to hail a ride, where to wait, what to look for and how the app works. Recognize how ride-share differs from taxi services and the related risks involved.
Before you request a ride, tell someone where you are going and what time to expect you. Share your ride information and estimated time of arrival with a friend or family member through the app so they can track your progress.
Call your Uber or Lyft while still inside. Wait inside and with friends. Do not wait alone. This could make you a target for criminals – either assailants on foot or someone who decides to pose as your Uber or Lyft driver. It is especially important to wait someplace safe late at night or if you have been drinking. Stay with friends you can trust to see you safely into your Uber or Lyft.
Always check that the license plate on the vehicle matches the plate numbers of your Uber or Lyft in the app. Check that the vehicle matches its description in make, model, and color. While you should also look for an Uber or Lyft sticker in the window, this does not guarantee it is your ride. Anyone can purchase these decals online without actually driving for a ride-share company.
The app will show you a photograph of your ride-share driver. Always compare the photo with the person behind the wheel. Incidents have happened where it is the correct car, but not the right driver. Also, look at the driver’s ratings. Uber and Lyft will not allow drivers with a certain number of low ratings to continue taking passengers. Still read a driver’s reviews, however, to make sure you are not getting in the car with someone dangerous. Bad reviews are a red flag.
Always wear your seat belt. Even if your Uber/Lyft driver is safe and prudent, someone else could crash into your car. Wearing your seat belt can reduce your risk of serious and fatal injuries in a car accident.
While on your ride, limit what you say to the driver. Do not mention where you plan on going after the drop-off, how much you have had to drink, what apartment number you live in, whether you live alone or that you are on your way to the airport for a long trip. Do not give the driver any personal information that could expose you to assaults or robberies.
Know your surroundings and the route the driver should take to your destination. Express your concern verbally if the driver starts to take a path you do not recognize. If necessary, demand that the driver pull over and let you out if he or she is not following the correct route.
Avoid falling asleep in the ride-share vehicle or taking an Uber/Lyft while overly intoxicated. Stay alert for signs of something wrong, such as the driver picking someone else up when you did not order a shared ride or the driver taking the wrong road. Watch for distracted driving as well.
If you do get into a Fairfax ride-share accident, report the issue to the company. Uber and Lyft allow riders to report accidents through the apps as well as through customer service lines. Reporting your issue promptly could help with an insurance claim later.