Uber and Lyft are advertised as secure modes of transportation for college students. With 750,000 drivers and 2 million drivers in the U.S. respectively, Uber and Lyft pride themselves on safety. However, due to recent events, it is important for students to remember to practice caution while riding.
On March 29 at about 2 a.m., after being separated from her roommates, University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson ordered an Uber ride home. Thinking it was her Uber, Josephson entered a black Chevrolet Impala. The following day at 1:30 p.m., one of Josephson’s roommates contacted the police after she hadn’t returned. Josephson’s body was found 14 hours after entering the vehicle. Local police arrested the driver, Nathaniel David Rowland, on charges of murder and kidnapping.
Josephson’s case is one of the most recent examples of individuals posing as Uber or Lyft drivers. However, legitimate Uber and Lyft drivers can also pose a danger to users. A 2018 CNN investigation found that 103 Uber drivers had been accused of sexual assault or abuse in the past four years.
In light of Josephson’s story and many others, City on a Hill Press has compiled safety tips for riding with Uber.
Before entering a vehicle, confirm license plate and car make and model.
When entering the vehicle, you should never ask “Is this Uber for _____?” or “Are you ____?”. Rather, ask “Who is this Uber for?” or “What is your name?” to confirm the validity of the ride.
Once inside your designated vehicle, ask the driver’s permission to check if the car’s child safety locks are disabled. This is a reasonable request.
Consider carrying self defense products, such as pepper spray, rape whistles and Tasers.
Ride with friends. There is strength in numbers. Multiple passengers could intimidate a dangerous driver.
Once en route, there is an option on Uber to share your location with loved ones. Tap “share trip status,” to share your driver’s name, photo, license plate and location.
If you are feeling unsafe, trust your intuition. Call 911.