Heavily marketed as a safer alternative to taking a taxi, rideshare apps are nothing more than a socially accepted form of hitchhiking for a nominal fee. In fact, ridesharing business models likely offer more safety advantages for drivers (due to cash-free transactions and self-identified passenger pickup) than for those catching a lift. Since there is no unified source of data that details the exact rate or nature of accidents and crimes, it is not easy to directly compare rideshare companies to other forms of public transportation. Nonetheless, carriers like Uber and Lyft do conduct criminal background checks and review driver's DMV records. But, it is still rather easy for people to participate in dangerous, negligent, reckless, or unreasonable behaviors once they are behind the wheel.
Safety Tips for Using Rideshare Transportation
Understanding the risks and being prepared to diffuse potentially dangerous situations are important behaviors when taking a rideshare or hailing a taxi. Remaining alert, making direct eye contact, and being proactive in your decision-making are important components of keeping yourself safe when using any form of public transportation. In addition, observe these tips:
- Call and Wait for Your Driver at a Safe Place -Avoid hanging around outside a business or club with your phone in your hand. It could make you a target for thief who then pretends to be your rideshare.
- Share Trip Details with Friends or Family - Once you catch your ride, call a friend or family member and let them know you've taken a rideshare. This gives someone outside the car an idea of where you should be and when.
- Confirm Your Driver's Name and Vehicle - When your ride arrives, verify that you are approaching the right vehicle before climbing inside.
- Make the Driver Confirm Your Name - If the person who pulls up is really your driver, they should already know your name and your destination. So, ask them for confirmation to avoid being the victim of a fake driver.
- Don't Hesitate to Be a Backseat Driver - Some drivers want to impress you with their car handling skills. Make sure your driver obeys traffic laws. If they fail to honor your request, call the rideshare company or dial 911.
- Use Your Phone Maps to Follow Routes - If you are not familiar with an area, turn on your phone's GPS and question any route that doesn't appear to be taking you to where you intended to go.
- Help Fight Crime - It is important that you report all suspicious behaviors as well as actual crimes whether attempted or suspected. Both the police and the rideshare company should thank you for the information.
If you are in an accident as a passenger of a rideshare service, seek immediate medical attention for any injuries. Then, gather as much information about the incident as you can. Your cell phone can allow you to take valuable snapshots that can preserve crucial evidence that may be lost before an investigation can occur.
Be Smart and Do All the Things to Play It Safe
Truth is, whether you choose a taxi or rideshare service, you are subject to a certain amount of risk from the time you climb aboard until exiting the vehicle at your intended stop. If you are traveling alone, sit in the back seat so you can safely exit on the side opposite of traffic flow. Whenever possible, travel in groups or use the carpooling option offered by most rideshares, as there is always safety in numbers. While it is a safer choice to use rideshare apps after a night out when you've had too much to drink, never take a rideshare alone if you are too inebriated to protect yourself. Just as you should make certain your driver isn't texting while driving, never avoid speaking up if their aggressive driving is making you uncomfortable. It is also important to trust your intuition. If you suspect your driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs end the trip immediately.
If you or a loved one are injured in a rideshare accident, contact Schackow & Mercadante to speak directly with a personal injury attorney regarding the details of your claim.