Using phone applications that provide ride-sharing services makes life more convenient. But what happens when convenience becomes a priority over safety? Although apps such as Uber or Lyft are considered the safe option when compared to driving after drinking, it’s important to be aware of the risks involved when using those apps.
Uber has reported that the company received 3,000 reports of sexual assault in 2019. Imagine how much more abuse has gone unreported. Although it’s convenient to just tap your phone and have a driver at your door within minutes, the reality is that you are getting into a stranger’s car. That driver can gain access to information on where you live and work, what bars you go to, plus any other personal information you may give them through conversation.
This places you in a vulnerable position. The driver has control of the car and can take advantage of that power for sexual abuse. If you’re not paying attention, they may take a wrong turn to get you alone. The close proximity increases the risk for fondling, flirting, harassment, and sexual abuse. When under the influence, a perpetrator will exploit that vulnerability for sexual abuse in the car or even in your home.
On the hopeful side, Lyft partnered with RAINN to develop a training program that educates drivers on maintaining safety within their community. Uber has stated that sexual assault prevention will become a priority, and both companies have made efforts to improve background checks and safety options on their apps. However, you have the greatest power in keeping yourself safe.
Here are some safety tips to remember when using a Ride-Sharing App:
Avoid giving the driver personal information.
It’s normal to have a polite conversation with someone. However, there is no need to provide private details about yourself. Talk about generic things such as the weather and traffic, or stay silent if that feels more comfortable.
Avoid taking a late-night ride alone.
It’s better to use these apps with a group of friends - plus you can split the cost between everyone!
Use the GPS on your phone to ensure that they are driving in the right direction.
Learn how to use safety features such as a 911 button in the Uber app, sharing your trip status with trusted friends or family, confirming you have the correct driver through a pin number, and reporting drivers.
Sit in the back seat.
This creates distance between you and the driver, giving you a better chance at escaping if the situation becomes dangerous.
Call a trusted family member or friend to let them know you are in the car and how long the trip will be. Offenders are less likely to sexually abuse when they know you are aware and actively engaging in your own safety.
Always ask the driver for your name. If they do not know both your name and destination, that is a sign that it may be a fake driver.
Verify the license plate before getting into the car.
Do not get into a car if the information from the app doesn’t match the driver or the vehicle. It’s better to risk a $5 cancellation fee than to risk your personal safety.
We understand that it’s convenient to use these apps that make everyday life a little easier. We use them too! The information from this guide has helped us use those apps in a safer way. We hope these tips also help you avoid compromising your safety for convenience and give you a better chance at living a joyful life free from sexual abuse.