Safety First For Your Summertime Ride-sharing Experience

Most of us tend to be increasingly active during the summer months as we travel more frequently, attend concerts and sporting events, and participate in other fun activities and adventures...

This increased recreation, entertainment, and tourist activity fuels the ride-sharing industry that is so commonplace today that we no longer even think twice about it. Ride-sharing services, which usually mean Uber or Lyft, make getting a ride easy, accessible and affordable.

In fact, more and more of us are using ride-hailing services. A study released earlier this year by Pew Research Center found that 36% of adults in America have used a ride-sharing service. In comparison, just 15% of Americans used these transportation services in 2015. 

But there are risks, and despite the prevalence and ease of calling for a ride, don’t ignore basic safety precautions. These include:

Keep your private info private. Don’t share your cellphone number with the driver. Ride-sharing services encrypt your number (and the driver’s number, too) so that it isn’t accessible to the driver. There’s no reason to share it. Never share credit card information. The app handles the transaction, including a tip.

Sit in the back seat. This gives everyone more personal space; you can exit from either door when you arrive, and it provides several choices for exiting regardless of the reason.

Keep a friend(s) involved. Both Uber and Lyft allow you to share your trip information: You’ll know who’s driving you, where you’re going and when you should arrive. Uber has a “share status” option that you can send to a friend, and Lyft offers a “send ETA” [estimated time of arrival]” feature with details about the trip and your position along the route.

Trust but Verify. Double-check the car before you enter. Does it match up with the make and color model in your app? Do the driver’s name and photo correspond to the data the ride service provided?

Who are You? If someone jumps into your car, pull over and ask: Who are you?  Don’t go anywhere until they exit. This happened to a friend of mine. The would-be rider jumped into my friend’s backseat thinking it was his Uber ride (he was engrossed on his cellphone). Signage requirements should reduce this possibility.

Go Your Own Way. Most drivers follow the route sketched out by their GPS. But by following the route yourself, you can easily and quickly confirm that your driver is not traveling in a direction he or she shouldn’t be taking.

Some might believe that being cautious about ride-sharing conduct is overkill on this issue, but that is a mistaken belief. 

Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student, who was from New Jersey, was murdered after entering a car that she thought was an Uber ride.

This tragedy led to the passage of Sami’s Law, which I wholeheartedly supported. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill into law last month and it goes into effect in March 2020. It will require ride-share drivers to provide:

  • Clear identification with illuminated signs on the front windshield and rear window, 
  • Credential placards with the driver’s name, photo and license plate number displayed on the driver and passenger side back windows, and
  • Digital barcodes to confirm the identity of the vehicle.

“As ride-sharing becomes more and more ubiquitous, we will need to take precautions to make sure that a simple convenience does not turn into a dangerous situation as it did for Sami,” Murphy said in a news report.

Uber and Lyft provide jobs and flexible working hours to millions of Americans. It’s a boost to the economy and demonstrates a touch of entrepreneurship that you can’t help but admire.

With that in mind, enjoy the ride but remain alert and ensure that your trip is a safe one.

That’s my take, what’s yours? 

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