Ride sharing applications have increased in popularity over the past few years. Some of the benefits for the passenger include being able to hail a ride using an app rather than looking up a phone number (for a Taxi), no cash exchange (the apps charge your credit card directly), and viewing a picture of your driver and their car before they pick you up. For the drivers, they have the opportunity to see a passenger profile before they pick up a stranger, there’s no cash exchange (less likely to be robbed), and it is an opportunity to earn extra money on a flexible schedule. However, getting a ride from (or with) a person you don’t know can have dangers. In this post, a provider with expertise in sexual assault shares tips for passenger safety when using ride hailing apps.

Guest post: Julia Mitzel, ARNP

Some tips to keep you and your friends and family safe:

1) Ask for the name of the driver when they pick you up. Although we have seen some cases where legitimate drivers have committed assault, there are also some perpetrators who borrow a car with a Lyft or Uber sticker or simply hang around places where there are likely people waiting for a car. If they are not legit, they will not match the name of the driver you are waiting for (or the make of the car).
2) The driver should know your name. Do not provide it until they ask for the right name from you.
3) Do not drink anything provided by the driver. I have seen a case where the woman was apparently drugged via the water bottle provided by the driver.
4) Be assertive. Ask the driver questions. Make them think you have someone specifically waiting for you to arrive where you have asked to be dropped off. This is harder if you have been drinking, but certainly try to be alert.
5) If something looks odd about the door locks, DO NOT get in the vehicle. Are they obviously broken, taped over, etc?
6) Whenever possible, ride in pairs or groups.
7) Take a photo of the license plate prior to entering the car. If the driver doesn’t like it, take another vehicle. You can also ask to take the driver’s photo. You can explain why you are doing it. If they say no, get a different driver.

8) Text the license plate number and/or photo of the driver to a friend before leaving. These may serve as important evidence in an assault case where a phone may be lost or stolen

Time stamps, texts, calls, photos, etc. from smart phones have been instrumental in putting together timelines and assisting with prosecution.

Please be safe out there. Share this information.