As the months get colder, more and more people traveling around their cities turn to rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft in lieu of other forms of transportation. People often use rideshare apps in order to get home safely after a night of drinking or to the airport quickly to catch a flight, for example.
While not all rideshare drivers have malintent, there are numerous cases reported to the authorities in which someone has become the victim of a crime while utilizing these services. Understanding the steps that someone can take in order to protect themself from these situations is important for one’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being.
A woman in France has made headlines in one of the most recent incidents of kidnapping and human trafficking in relation to rideshare apps. Nina Scaly attempted to grab an Uber heading toward a Parisian suburb she was familiar with. Soon after getting into the vehicle, she noticed that the man driving the vehicle was headed in the completely wrong direction.
Scaly confronted the man, confused as to why they were going the wrong way. Her confusion quickly turned to paranoia and fright when the man canceled the ride mid-session and continued taking her to an unknown location, commenting that she had nothing to worry about. Scaly hurriedly opened the door of the moving vehicle, bailing and sustaining multiple serious injuries.
Similarly, sexual assaults are not entirely unheard of for those grabbing Ubers and Lyfts. Mdsultan Mahamud is an example of an Uber driver who sexually assaulted and raped an anonymous woman, forcing himself onto her without her consent after picking her up.
Shortly after having a night out with some of her best friends, the unnamed woman called an Uber in order to make her way back home. Considering one’s vulnerability while in a state of inebriation, it is always recommended to be extra wary when getting into someone else’s vehicle. The fatigue of a late-night party alone is enough to beckon the need for increased alertness.
Capitalizing on the difficulty of escaping a motor vehicle, thefts will sometimes occur in order to scam people out of their money and valuables. Fellow passengers in a carpool Uber, the driver themself, or someone posing to be the driver may attempt to steal someone’s money. Thieves have been known to frequent applications and services like Uber as it brings them in close proximity to their targets, who are often unable to flee.
Another obvious example of serious incidents that can happen while someone is in the vehicle of a rideshare accident is a motor vehicle accident. This is not entirely uncommon and poses an extreme risk to riders, as seen in the recent headlines concerning an Uber accident in Boston that left multiple people dead.
Although it may seem fairly straightforward that motor vehicle accidents occur and that the company or driver will be liable for your injuries, a blame game is sometimes initiated between involved parties. This is obviously done in order to avoid having to pay expensive medical fees and other costs, but may leave the injured patron and their family in uncertainty as they struggle to pay the bills.
Staying safe in Lyfts and Uber is of utmost importance, considering the risks that they pose. Luckily, law firms, rideshare companies themselves, and other organizations offer valuable tips to those looking to use these services.
When ordering a rideshare service, the company provides license plate information along with the make and model of the car coming to pick someone up. The very first step when looking for a ride is utilizing this information to verify that it is indeed the correct vehicle. Con artists have been known to pretend to be someone else’s Uber, ultimately leading to them taking advantage of them.
In further verification of a driver’s identity, Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services provide a picture of the individual driving the car along with their picture. Using this information, someone requesting a ride is able to compare the photo to the actual driver before getting into the vehicle, along with asking them to state their name out loud.
Getting in the backseat of an Uber is always recommended, considering that this scenario makes it more difficult for an attacking driver to get a hold of a potential victim. It should be noted that some drivers may become irritable and aggressive when someone refuses to sit in the front seat. This scenario should be avoided altogether, and it is heavily recommended to cancel the ride and call another Uber. In addition to sitting in the backseat, it is always recommended to wear a seatbelt as it greatly increases the chance of surviving a serious motor vehicle accident, in addition to being legally required.
Uber, along with other companies, has begun rolling out a new feature that allows rideshare customers to share their trip with a friend or family member. This is extremely valuable as this means that an outside party is able to geographically track the ride and ensure that it makes it to its destination. Taking advantage of the “Share Ride” feature may prove critical in the unfortunate scenario that someone has to call the police.
There are many different examples of potential scenarios someone could find themself in. Considering these possibilities, it is highly suggested to take the necessary precautions in order to avoid them. In a single year, Chicago alone saw 300 cases in which drivers had to be banned from their rideshare apps, painting a bleak picture for the safety of passengers. Despite the woes of booking a rideshare app, following these steps to staying safe in an Uber or Lyft can mean the difference between life and death.