During the past couple of months, there have been many incidents that challenged the safety of drivers and passengers. Back in March of 2019, a South Carolina college student named Samantha Josephson was tragically murdered after entering the wrong car, which she believed was her Uber ride. She was waiting outside and standing alone after a night out. Most importantly, she was a young girl who had her whole life ahead of her, only for it to be taken away by someone so cruel. After hearing the news, I started becoming super paranoid about riding Lyft/Uber. I started to become highly cautious when it came to the license plates matching the ride as well as the driver confirming his/her/their name. It is important for passengers to ask, "What is my name?" before entering the car. You never know who you get into a car with because there are sick people in this world.
Like Samantha, there are hundreds of other victims whose names go unheard and it is scary. However, us passengers have to stick together and stay safe. Here are some important guidelines you should follow if you are nervous about your next Uber/Lyft ride:
1. Always wait INSIDE for your ride!
This is to make sure you don't instantly hop in the first car you see. The app will notify you when the driver arrives. I know you want to be ready and wait outside for the person to come, but there is a 5-minute wait time, which gives you enough time to get to the pickup location.
2. When the car arrives, make sure you match up the model, make, year and license plate.
It is very important to always check who you are getting in the car with. make sure the license plates match the one listed in the description as well as the make and model. If the driver happens to switch cars, DO NOT get in the car, even if it is the same person.
I say this because my friends and I had a driver who switched cars and had a 4-seater car, but we requested for an Uber XL for 6-7 people. Luckily, we didn't get in the car and cancelled it because the guy was weird anyway.
3. Before opening the door, ask the driver "What is MY name?" Or "What is YOUR name?"
This is IMPORTANT. Do not ask "is your name ________?" Because the driver can say yes or no to anything. Always ask a question that doesn't require a yes or no. If the driver refuses to answer or wants to know why are you asking, don't get in the car. A simple question doesn't need to be complicated and that is a red flag.
4. If you are traveling by yourself, ALWAYS sit in the backseat. (If you are going with friends, you can sit in the front.)
Everyone naturally goes to the back seat but this is to avoid that person trying to get easy access to you. When you're getting in with your friends, it is totally fine to sit in the front. This is only important when you are alone. No matter what, stay safe.
5. If your driver has complimentary mints, water or snacks, DO NOT take any!
I mean, it's the same thing as if you were going to the bar, don't take drinks from strangers.
6. Map your own route during the ride (to make sure he is on course).
If the driver asks to go off course and take a "detour," don't let them. If traffic is really bad, you're just going to have to suck it up.
7. Text a friend where you are going and who you are with.
In case something bad happens, make sure people know where you are at all times. I have seen some cases where a passenger was in trouble and her friend tracked her while calling the police.
8. If you are ever in a dangerous situation, download the "Noonlight" app to save a life!
This app will allow you to press and hold down a button, which immediately notifies the police. It will warn you and make you aware that you are alerting authorities. In most situations, calling 911 and "talking on the phone," will make the drive panic and act quickly. If the driver knows you're calling the police on them, they will strike. The key is to do everything in secret.