How to stay safe when using a ridesharing app
Technology has made things easier. You can do many things in the comfort of wherever you are. And as far as requesting cabs is concerned, millions use rideshare apps daily since they're fast, cheap, and convenient.
However, there have been multiple cases of people pretending to be rideshare drivers who later assault and steal from passengers. It’s important to remember that anyone using rideshare apps should be vigilant to avoid unpleasant situations.
Here are some tips for how to stay safe.
Get enough information about the driver and the car
Before getting into a car, look at the driver's name, car model, and license plate number. It's essential to note that kidnappers will pose as drivers to take advantage of unaware travelers. To ensure you're riding in the right car with the right driver, check their information on your app. The information should match the driver whose car you're in. Also, ensure the car matches the description displayed on the app.
View the driver’s profile
Each ridesharing company has profiles where clients can view the driver's profile and ratings from other passengers. Before boarding any vehicle, check this information to ensure they exist and work with the company. Make sure they don’t have a terrible rating. If the information isn't enough to guarantee your safety, cancel the ride and request another cab. You can also research how to change your IP address to redirect the driver if you think your safety isn't guaranteed.
Request the ride inside
Most passengers request rides while on the street. Though it might be convenient, especially if you don't want to waste valuable time before boarding, it poses security risks. It's vital to understand that imposters passing as drivers are more likely to drive around popular streets looking for people to take advantage of.
When you’re standing on the street with your phone in your hands waiting for a cab, these individuals can easily target and trick you. In such a situation, they can either snatch your phone and drive away or pretend to be the driver you've been waiting for. Once you board a vehicle driven by imposters, it becomes unpredictably dangerous.
To avoid being in such a situation, request your ride indoors, and get out only when the car has arrived. This way, you’ll avoid attracting too much attention from ill-motivated people.
Always sit at the back
If you're a lone traveler, always sit at the back. This prevents any kind of sexual assault such as touching without permission. Additionally, while seated at the back, you have a clear view of every driver's movement and can act immediately if necessary. Back seaters also can exit the car from either side to avoid oncoming traffic.
Use “Share my ride” feature to update others about your ride
Even after taking precautions to enhance your safety, things can still happen. You might find yourself in danger with no one to help you, especially if they have no idea that you’re riding a cab. As the saying goes, better safe than sorry. Once you've requested a ride and begun your journey, use the “Share my ride” feature available in most ridesharing services to share your location with people you trust. This way they’ll know your location at all times and will know if you got to your destination.
Ensure the driver remains on track
Any ridesharing app allows the passenger to see the designated route. Therefore, it's easy to know when the driver isn't headed in the right direction. That said, it's always important to monitor the route and act immediately if you think the driver is changing the route deliberately.
Act carefully in such a case. For instance, you can act normal until you're in a public area where you can shout or yell for help instead of trying to jump out of the car in an isolated area. Remember, calling 911 should be a priority when you're in danger.
Don’t share personal information
It won’t be a good idea to share personal information with the driver. Even if you’ve had a nice chat, this person is still a stranger. Sharing information like your address, name, and contact numbers may put you at risk of trolling and receiving phone calls from unknown people, especially if the driver is incompetent and decides to share your information. It’s wise to keep your relationship with the driver as professional as possible.
Exit the cab in a safe area
It’s better to exit the cab in a safe area with many people, even if it means exiting a couple of yards before your destination. This move ensures that the driver won’t give you away to criminals, and your address remains a mystery.
Trust your gut
We all have an intuition that often saves us from trouble. Sometimes, it warns you when something wrong is about to happen. If your instinct tells you not to board a particular car, don’t enter the car. Also, if you’re already in and moving, ask the driver to drop you at the next stop, and ensure the place is populated. If the driver refuses to stop the car, call 911 immediately before the matter escalates.
Unlike before, when you could stand by the road or street waiting for taxis, today, you can request a cab from anywhere anytime with ride-sharing apps. This makes movements easy and convenient since all you need is to use a smartphone and get a cab at your disposal regardless of time and destination.
Nevertheless, such technologies have a fair share of risks since you can board the wrong car. If you heed and follow safety measures like the ones mentioned above, you'll have a safe ride whenever, wherever.
Megan Lowe is a fellow rideshare user and a safety advocate. She writes blogs to share tips when using such apps. Whenever she's free, Megan enjoys doing yoga and baking.