Protect your safety on Lyft and Uber. Be aware of security risks
London is Uber’s biggest European market. Late last month, Uber suffered a major blow when regulators refused to renew its operating permit, due to safety concerns. Authorities found that Lyft and Uber security rules were being circumvented.
According to Transport for London, the most serious issue cited was that at least 14,000 trips were by unauthorized drivers. They were using false identities between late 2018 and early 2019. The unauthorized drivers used authorized drivers’ accounts, with their own uploaded photos to fool users. The drivers were able to pose as though they were vetted, licensed and insured, but they weren’t. Uber is appealing the decision, so for now, Uber cars will continue to operate in London.
Almost from the start of their popularity, ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft had security rules issues and complaints about driver vetting. From the moment you start a ride-hailing company’s app on your smartphone, you must take personal responsibility for your safety while using the company’s services.
Safety precautions are a must when using ride-hailing companies.
I’ve got fourteen Lyft and Uber security rules you should always take when using Uber, Lyft or another ride-hailing company.
If you’re alone and impaired from drinking, etc.,
Call a friend to pick you up, not a ride-hailing company, when you’re seriously impaired. In that condition, you can’t suitably take care of yourself and you can’t assume that your driver is a good person.
Before you order your ride, if you’re choosing car-pooling to save, reconsider.
I won’t ride in a ride-hailing company car with passengers you don’t know. I think it’s too dangerous. Particularly if you’re alone, don’t let strangers ride with you.
Wait for the car in a well-lighted spot.
Protect your safety on Lyft and Uber. Don’t wait in a dark, deserted location for your ride.
Match your smartphone app data to the car and driver before getting in.
When the car arrives, check its make, model, color and license plate before opening the car’s door.
Ride-hailing companies provide all users with the make, model, color and license plate number of the car picking them up. Match all four to the description on the company’s smartphone app before entering the car. If the information doesn’t match, don’t get in.
Ask the driver his name and match his photo:
The driver’s name and photo will be on the company’s app. When you open the car’s door, ask the driver for their name and have them turn to you to match their face to the photo. Don’t use the name of the driver you’re expecting in your question. Don’t ask, “Are you Harry?” If it’s dark and you can’t match them to the photo, ask them to turn on their car’s inside lights. If anything doesn’t match, don’t get in the car.
Be aware of safety risks.
Ask the driver for your name and your destination.
The driver knows your first name and your destination. As the final check to make sure it’s your driver, ask them for your name and where you’re going. If all your questions about the driver and you aren’t answered correctly, don’t get in the car.
No front seat if you’re alone:
If you’re alone and the driver asks you to get in the front seat, refuse the ride. I want two exits and more space between me and the driver.
Sit diagonally from the driver in the back seat.
To be able to see what the driver is doing, I prefer to sit in the back, diagonally from them. It also puts me further from them. If you’re alone, protect your safety on Lyft or Uber.
Check the doors and windows for child locks:
Whether you’re alone or riding with someone else, check that you can unlock and open the car doors and windows to depart in an emergency. Open the doors and windows after they are closed, before the car departs for your destination. In case of an attack or an accident, it’s too dangerous if the child locks are on, so get another ride.
Alone in the car? Communicate with family or a friend during the ride.
Share your ride details.
Both Uber and Lyft allow you to share your trip with a friend or family member. Use it to send the details of your trip to them.
If you’re alone, call a family member or friend during the ride:
When alone in the car, call a family member or friend. During your conversation, tell them your driver’s name and car license number. Keep them updated on your location as you move along, in case of an emergency.
No personal information to the driver.
If you have a conversation with your driver, don’t reveal personal information.
Get out of the car early if you’re concerned.
Don’t be afraid to get out of the car early if you are concerned about the driver’s behavior or driving. If there’s an emergency or you suspect danger, don’t hesitate to call the local emergency number. Uber and Lyft have emergency call buttons within their apps.
When you’re dropped off at your destination, have the driver pull over to a safe, well-lighted location.
There is nothing you can do to be “absolutely” safe when being driven by a ride-hailing company, but if you follow my commonsense suggestions, you can significantly enhance your safety while using the convenience and comfort of these companies’ vehicles.
After many years working in corporate America as a chemical engineer, executive and eventually CFO of a multinational manufacturer, Ned founded a tech consulting company and later restarted NSL Photography, his photography business. As a well known corporate, travel and wildlife photographer, Ned travels the world writing about travel and photography, as well as running photography workshops, seminars and photowalks. Visit Ned’s Photography Blog and Galleries.