Millions of people around the world use ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft every day, and while the majority of them enjoy their rides without incident, accidents and dangerous situations sadly do happen.
Most recently, there was the case of 21-year-old college student Samantha Josephson. She ended up dead after mistaken getting into a car she thought was an Uber. Although the suspect was quickly apprehended and wasn’t affiliated with Uber or Lyft in any way, it still left a lot of ride-sharers understandably spooked.
Uber has been working with law enforcement to increase passenger awareness since 2017, and they’re launching a campaign called Check Your Ride to further bolster their efforts to educate passengers on how to ride safely.
With that goal in mind, here’s some advice from Uber and Lyft drivers:
1. Check the plates
The simplest way to know you’re getting in the right car is to make sure the license plate on the car matches the info on the app. Make and model are good indicators too, but a mismatched (or nonexistent) license plate is a clear sign.
2. Ask the right questions
We get it, you want a silent, peaceful ride and not talk to anyone. But there are a few basic questions you should always get out of the way immediately. Official drivers should know your name and destination and you should double-check that they do before getting in the car. Also, ask the driver for their name and be sure it matches what you see on the app.
3. Stay generally aware
While apps like Uber and Lyft have made getting home after a night on the town much easier, it’s still important to keep your wits about you to some extent and not forget some of the basic safety checks mentioned above.
4. Sit in the right spot
Always try to sit in the back seat, behind the passenger side. Sitting behind the driver means they can’t see you, and you can’t see them, and sitting up front also leaves both of you that much more vulnerable. It’s just safer for everyone to be in the back passenger side.
5. Choose your pick-up and drop-off locations wisely
Sometimes when bars let everyone out after last call, there’s a whole lot of folks clustered in a single spot waiting for rides. Choosing a pick-up spot a little further away helps the driver pull up safely. However, you should still choose a place that’s relatively well-lit and populated. Also, if you can avoid it at all, try not to get dropped off directly at your door. If the weather is nice enough, get out a block away from home.
6. Watch for red flags
In addition to checking the license plate and name, you should also check the make and model of the car. Watch to see if your driver looks sober or not, or if there’s anyone else in the car with them. These are all situations to avoid.
7. Be ready to walk away
If you spot a red flag or two after getting into the car, don’t hesitate to end the ride early. You can defuse the situation by saying something like “I just got an emergency text/call. Could you pull over please?” You can also add a stop to your ride and just get out at that stop.
8. Communication is vital
Communicating with your driver can also help keep you safe. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are also allowed to share your ride with a family member so they can track your progress and see that you got home safe and on time.