Safety tips Uber and other ride share users should know

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If we were to discuss personal injury risk regarding motor vehicle or airplane travel, we might consider certain comparisons. For instance, analysts often compare overall numbers of travelers to reported number of incidents. This helps them come up with a risk percentage. This post is about safety tips for people who use Uber and other ride share services.

It’s troubling when a company who has been called out tries to use comparison strategies to minimize damages done from criminal activity of its contractors. Uber recently made news headlines. The company admitted reports of nearly 6,000 sexual assaults occurring during rides in the past two years. While the majority of assaults were driver against passenger, there were some reports of passenger against driver as well.  It’s no secret that when the topic is sexual assault, such statistics are typically low estimates. Many more assaults are likely to have gone unreported. In several stories that shared Uber’s public statements on the crimes, the company tried to shift the focus to how safe its services are. It stated that since more than 40% of women in the United States will suffer sexual assault in their lifetimes, it means the overall safety rate of Uber ride shares is good.

Why such comments are disturbing

Many say air flight is safe considering the number of crashes compared to number of flights. This isn’t the same as saying women have nothing to worry about when using Uber because people filed “only” 6,000 reports of sexual assault in two years. To compare this number to the more than 50 million women who have been sexually assaulted in the U.S. attempts to diminish the significance of the 6,000. The bottom line is that, one is too many when it comes to an Uber driver sexually assaulting a client. (One is too many when it comes to any sexual assault, any time, by anyone, anywhere.)

Uber clients should review safety tips before riding

There are several things ride share clients can do to be proactive and help improve safety. This suggestion in no way places culpability on a prospective client if a driver commits sexual assault. It does, however, provide practical ideas that are easy to implement that may help a particular client avoid falling victim to a crime. One of numerous safety tips is to stay indoors while waiting for your Uber ride. If you called from home, stay in your house. If you called from a pub or restaurant, stay inside the establishment.

Remaining indoors allows you to easily implement the next several safety tips. Never assume that you are getting into the correct car when your ride arrives. Compare the vehicle (model, make, license plate number) with the information your app provides. Also, check the driver photo to see if the same person in the photo is in the car outside your door. Before getting into the vehicle, ask the person behind the wheel the following question: Who are you here to pick up? If the driver does not state your name correctly, do not get into the car!

Additional ride share safety tips

One of the most important ride share safety tips you can employ is to always ride in the back seat. If you’re in a group someone might have to use the front passenger seat; however, if you’re alone, never ride up front — ever. As long as you’re in the back, you can exit the vehicle from either of two sides, if necessary. Also, don’t keep the app info to yourself. Share it with a trusted friend or loved one. This allows the person with whom you share the information to track your travel status.

If you call 911, use the Uber app to do it

Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable doing. If, at any time, you feel your safety is at risk during a ride, call 911 through the Uber app. When you do it that way (as opposed to dialing 911 outside of the app) the dispatcher receives your real time location. You can also share the trip information with him or her. Always be mindful of safety tips, especially if you’re traveling alone.

My personal experience

During a wonderful Myrtle Beach girls’ get-away with four of my best friends, we used Uber. During a ride, our driver took a turn that we did not recognize as part of our normal route back to our condo. I immediately told him he was going the wrong way. He claimed it was a shortcut but I demanded that he return to the main route. After that experience, I have since suggested (when discussing ride share services) that clients and drivers should have a way to specify and agree to a particular route. The driver would then be legally obligated (as part of the contract) to take that route only. If there were a detour or something due to construction or a collision on the roadway, the app could include such details as well. This would allow you to give permission for an alternate route ahead of time. Do you have safety tips to offer others who use ride share services? Share them in the comment box!

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