Are Ubers safe?

February 10, 2020

In March 2009 America was introduced to a new type of multinational, ride-hailing company that allows you to get rides to and from a destination of your choice, widely known as Uber. Uber has over 22,263 employees worldwide including 11,488 outside the United States. To become an employee of the widespread company,  all you have to have a valid US driver’s license, have at least one year of experience driving, and have an eligible 4 door car. Meeting these requirements is quite simple, but with the growing cases of sex trafficking, kidnapping, etc. many question the safety of Uber. Uber does have the requirement that each new employee must complete a driver screening test that scans their criminal history and driving record, but there have been many alarming cases that show that your safety is not the most important thing Uber is concerned about. 

As teenagers we are truly warned about a lot of different things that happen in highschool: consequences of sex, alcohol, kidnappers, sex trafficking, etc. But some still choose to indulge in risky behaviors that could lead to a variety of catastrophes which could even be as simple as stepping into an Uber. When you were younger, you learned the whole “stranger danger” rule from your parents, but as you got older and learned through experience, this rule was pushed back into a deep part of your brain that tells you this fear is irrational and “could never happen to me.” I’m here to tell you once again your mother knows best and was correct when she told you that strangers are in fact quite dangerous, and you should always be cautious of your surroundings, who your with, and where you are no matter how widely used the company is or how “safe” your town is. 

In 2018, Uber reported 3,045 sexual assaults during its rides in the United States, with nine people murdered and 58 killed in crashes. “Reports of sexual assault and murders have since become a regular occurrence as ride-hailing has become a mainstay of urban transportation,” says New York Times Magazine. In December 2019, women joined in a lawsuit against Uber’s competitor Lyft, saying they had been sexually assaulted by their drivers during rides arranged by the company. 

Uber and others have introduced more safety features and procedures in recent years. Uber has rolled out automated technology to regularly check drivers’ driving records and criminal history. Since 2018, it said, it has deactivated 40,000 drivers in the United States after they failed the checks made by the automated technology. But still, as consumers, we have to take the proper precautions because if there is one thing history has shown it’s that humans are undeniably unpredictable. 

Coming from safety experts, if there is a situation where you must get into an Uber or Lyft etc., first make sure to check your ride. Make sure that you are getting into the right car matching the same exact license plate and model of the car along with a driver photo provided with the app. Uber trips can only be made through the app so never get into a car that doesn’t match the exact details from the app. Also, make sure you have the driver confirm your name, so you’re getting in the right Uber with the right person.  

Next, try your best to have a friend or family member with you in the car. Most incidents happen when a passenger is riding alone with their driver. If you are unable to have a friend with you, be a back seat rider. When in the back seat it helps ensures a safe exit on either side to avoid moving traffic and keeps a healthy distance for you and your driver. Always make sure you have easy access to a phone. Having a phone with you gives you immediate connection to family, friends, or emergency contacts. While en route, share your trip details with your loved ones such as your location, drivers name, photo, or license plate. 

Last but not least, trust your intuition. If you are in an Uber and something feels off ask to make a stop and leave quickly. Uber just added a new feature that allows passengers to have up to three stops on a trip so you have the option to get out when you need to. If in an emergency situation where you are unable to stop the car, located in Uber’s app, you are able to call emergency services that provides you with your real-time location and trip details that you can share with your dispatcher. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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