When you are using driver services like Lyft or Uber, there are inherent risks involved. While these companies have policies in place to protect their customers, riders can also take a number of precautions to make sure they get to their destination safely.
Make sure you understand the different levels of driver services. Lyft and Uber offer several transportation options. With “Lyft” and “UberX,” you will be riding around with an everyday driver in their privately-owned, qualified vehicle. “UberXL” is the same type of driver, but with a larger vehicle that can accommodate more passengers. “Lyft Plus” is for rides with as many as six passengers; you may be transported in one of Lyft’s Ford Explorer SUV with the pink mustache on the dashboard. “UberBlack” is more business-like, with a licensed chauffeur driving a black luxury sedan with the Uber emblem on the windshield. This service is more expensive than UberX or UberXL. Both Lyft and Uber also offer carpool options. With “Lyft Line” and “Uberpool,” you will be sharing your ride with an unknown passenger. The shared ride means a lower overall fare; however, the trip could take longer as each individual passenger is dropped off at their separate destinations.
Do not request a ride while curbside. You do not have to go outside the house, restaurant, event space, business, etc. to request a Lyft or Uber. Both companies’ phone apps feature notification systems; riders will receive an alert when their drivers arrive. There is no need to wait by yourself and/or in a potentially unsafe area for the driver to get there.
Verify your driver’s identity. Driver services like Lyft or Uber do not always have obvious markings on the vehicle, so you want to make sure the approaching vehicle is actually the ride you ordered. When you request a ride, the phone app provides the driver’s name, photo, and license plate number. Before you get into a car with a stranger, check the license plate and make sure the driver marches the photo. (Drivers are supposed to address you by name, as well). Beware of imposter Lyft or Uber drivers; never accept a ride with a vehicle you did not request.
Sit in the back seat of the vehicle. When you ride in the back seat, it may seem awkward, but this is one of the safest places in the vehicle. Recent research shows that those who sit in the front (especially women) are statistically more likely to be the victim of an assault or unwanted behavior (Source: whosdrivingyou.org). Also, by sitting in the back, you have the option of exiting either side of the vehicle, depending on traffic conditions.
Always wear your seatbelt. Sitting in the backseat or taking a short ride are no excuses for skipping your seatbelt. If an accident were to occur, a seatbelt is one of the most effective tools in preventing injury or even death. Remember to buckle-up, every time.
Stay in touch with friends and family through the phone app. Both the Lyft and the Uber phone apps allow you to share your route with friends and family (anyone whose contact information is on your phone). Anyone with the link can see your trip details, route, and estimated arrival time. They can see the car moving along the route and when their friend or family member arrives at their destination.
You can stop the ride if you feel unsafe. If you are riding in a vehicle and feel unsafe for any reason, you can stop the driver service and exit the vehicle. It is better to get out of the car and request another driver than put yourself at risk. Just be sure that when you leave the vehicle, it is in a well-lit, public area. Also, it is important to note – be friendly with your driver, but do not disclose too much personal information. Often, Lyft or Uber drivers are transporting you home; you do not want to put yourself in danger by sharing info about your living situation, finances, state of mind, security, etc.
Be careful when exiting the vehicle. Make sure that your driver drops you off at the correct destination, and that you can safely exit the vehicle. Some passengers might be tempted to hop out of the vehicle while it is still moving, or to avoid further traffic delays by exiting prior to their destination – but this puts them at an unnecessary risk. Also, be sure to pay attention to the other vehicles and pedestrians around you.
Rate your driver / driving experience. Lyft and Uber’s rating systems keep the driver in check and encourages good behavior. If you have had a negative experience, make sure you indicate that in your rating, so both the driver service companies and future passengers are aware of the situation.