Posted: January 5, 2016

How to safely use ride-hailing services
Some travelers have concerns about the safety of ride-sharing services.

Ride-share services like Uber and Lyft have officially taken over. According to Certify's SpendSmart Report for quarter three of 2015, these services are now more popular than taxis or rental cars. However, some travelers still express concerns about safety in these vehicles. These concerns aren't unfounded – there have been reports of assaults and robberies from Uber and Lyft drivers as the apps have become increasingly ubiquitous.

It's easy to see why people might have reservations. Even those who use the apps can find themselves doubting the safety of their decision. For example, a woman in San Francisco recently fled from a moving Lyft car after her driver failed to stop when asked, according to SFGate. That situation happened to be a misunderstanding – the driver was hard of hearing – but that element of fear is still present. Here are some safety tips for those using car-sharing apps that might make you feel a little more secure:

Ride-share safety

As soon as you request a driver on your ride-share app, you should be given the driver's name, and the make and model of the car. Most of the time, you will also be given a picture of the person driving the car. Use this information to make sure the person who arrives is, in fact, your driver.

One of the most common ways for people to trick riders into an unsafe situation is to drive up to someone who looks like they're waiting for a car. Then the false drivers roll down the window and claim to be the car you're waiting for. If the information doesn't match up, do not get into the car. Also, a legitimate driver will know your name from the request – ask for this information to confirm they're actually from the company. Even if the GPS information matches the location, it's still safer to make sure you're in a registered car with a registered driver – not just a registered phone. 

You can take other safety measures to ensure you're going where you're supposed to. Ask the driver what route he or she plans to take to your destination, and follow along on your phone. If you take a wrong turn, speak up – the odds are good there's a real reason, but letting the driver know you're paying attention is never a bad idea.

Malevolent intent is not the only reason someone might feel uncomfortable in a ride-share car – you might simply find yourself in a car with an unsafe driver. Remember that you have the right to end the ride at any time, and you are encouraged to report drivers who make unsafe or illegal driving maneuvers.

Finally, always let someone know when you're getting into a ride-share vehicle, and how long you expect your commute to take. Give him or her the name of your driver, and the make, model and license plate number of the car. Update your contact if your trip takes longer than expected, and let your loved one know to reach out to police if you don't arrive when expected or suddenly can't be reached. This way, someone is aware in the unlikely event that something bad happens during your ride.

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