Uber, Lyft and other rideshare services have become increasingly popular throughout the U.S. in recent years and New Port Richey is no exception. The convenience these applications offer is unmatched. However, recent studies show that while helpful, these rideshare apps can also present an increasing likelihood of danger for many users. Specifically, violent crimes and motor vehicle accidents have become a major cause of concern. In this blog, we cover rideshare apps safety.
Last year, leading rideshare company Uber, released it’s first-ever U.S. safety report. The 84-page report analyzes data collected over 2 years from popular ride-share platforms and encompasses over 2 billion rides. The results of the report show a shockingly frequent occurrence of violent crimes. Sexual assault, at various levels of severity, was the most common transgression. Surprisingly, 42% of those who reported sexual assault were drivers, not passengers. Other reported incidents include, battery, robbery, kidnapping, and grand theft auto.
Incidents like this are popping up everywhere. Just last year, a Port Richey Uber driver was charged with battery after sexually assaulting a female passenger. Luckily, she was able to exit the vehicle and run away.
Uber-related Driving Fatalities
In addition to violent crimes, in 2017, 49 Uber-related driving fatalities were reported. While in 2018, that number increased to 58, for a total of 97 deaths that resulted in 107 accidents. 65% occurred in a vehicle-to-vehicle crash. 31% were the result of a collision with a pedestrian or bicyclist. And 4% involved other types of accidents, a car hitting a tree, for example.
Many victims of rideshare violence or accidents have found that the issues don’t subside after the ride is over. In fact, several complicated issues like insurance coverage, hospital bills, and criminal charges can arise. While navigating these lingering consequences it is often helpful to engage the help of a qualified New Port Richey attorney.
What Rideshare Apps Are Doing.
To their credit, many rideshare applications have recently developed new software to protect their riders and drivers. Most app users are now able to use a quick access panic button through the app that will send key details, including location to a 911 dispatcher. Another benefit is the upcoming inclusion of an innovative, predictive software Uber is calling “RideCheck”. It will trigger a call from rideshare support teams when a ride has stopped too soon or for an unusual amount of time.
Despite the inclusion of these app improvements, the emergence of these statistics show that rideshare apps are finding it difficult to pinpoint a consistent way to curb both car accidents and violent crime. As such, it’s up to rideshare passengers and drivers alike to protect themselves. Below we offer a few suggestions about rideshare apps safety.
What You Can Do.
Before the Ride
- Understand the App – Familiarizing yourself with the features within the rideshare app can protect both drivers and passengers and make you prepared to use them during an emergency. Uber, Lyft, and many other rideshare apps allow you to share your ride with a friend or family member so they can follow your location in real-time. Also, as mentioned above if you need immediate help, there may be an “emergency button” that can not only connect you with 911 instantly, but will also make it easy to share your current location and vehicle info. Having an understanding ahead of time on how to use this in app feature will be invaluable in the event of an emergency.
- Know Your Surroundings and Wait Inside for Your Ride – If you are in an unfamiliar area and are getting picked up at night, check around to see which businesses are open and wait inside instead of lingering outside while waiting for your car to arrive.
- The 4 Point Check
o Confirm the Vehicle Make and License Plate. Be sure the information on your app matches the vehicle.
o Confirm the Passenger Name. Always ask the driver the name of the passenger they are picking up before you get in. Do not say your name first.
o Compare The Driver’s Photo. Rideshare drivers are required to display a picture. Make sure the driver’s face matches the photo on your app. Do not be embarrassed, ask them to remove sunglasses if you are unsure.
o Assess the Driver. Although alcohol and drug use are prohibited by rideshare companies, that doesn’t mean drivers always comply. Check the driver for signs of erratic behavior or substance abuse.
During the Ride
- Sit in the Back Seat – Passengers are generally safer in the back seat in the event of a car accident. Sitting in the back also allows you better exit options and provides some needed distance between you and the driver.
- Share Your Location – Once you get in the car, let someone know. You can share your location through any number of available apps, including the real-time GPS tracking through the rideshare app, if available. Alternatively, you could simply send a text with the driver’s name and license plate number to someone you trust.
- Pay Attention – Watch the GPS system on your phone and make sure you know where you are going at all times. If you notice that the driver is taking a detour or an unusual route, say something. Questioning their movement or even asking them to stop immediately can be a lifesaver.
- Don’t Get Too Personal – A little small talk can be nice, but avoid sharing detailed personal information with your driver. Sharing things like whether or not you live at your pick-up or drop-off location, how long you are traveling, your full name, phone number, where you work or other identifiable information could put you at risk.
- Don’t Distract the Driver – While this tip does not speak to the avoidance of violence crimes, it is a crucial tip for avoiding motor vehicle accidents. Distracting movements, conversations, or rudeness can cause a driver to lose focus and get into an accident. Remember, at all times, the driver’s job is to drive and that should be their number one focus.
- Follow Your Instincts & Intuition – If you ever feel you are in a scary situation, call 911. Request that the driver stop immediately, or signal other drivers nearby for help. Never feel like you are overreacting.
After the Ride
- Rate Your Driver and Report Any Negative Behavior – Following your ride, you can give feedback or make complaints about your driver, or the ride in general, through their website or app. Bystanders, or non-app users can call the company’s customer service line to file a complaint. Make sure to provide as much information as possible. Include license plate number, the make, model, and color of the vehicle and any other detailed information about the incident or your complaint. This can greatly benefit rideshare apps safety when companies receive driver ratings.
Ratings are one of the best ways to protect future riders and drivers from problematic users of the apps.
- Contact An Attorney To Understand Your Rights – Your first thought after a traumatic rideshare incident may not include contacting an attorney. You will likely still be trying to wrap your head around what happened. It is important to know that discussing the situation with a knowledgeable and experienced New Port Richey injury attorney can help you process what happened. It can also prepare you for what’s to come legally. Your attorney will be able to help you gather necessary documentation and records to make sure you are treated fairly throughout the process.
Your Safety Comes First
Though concerning, the risk of encountering issues like those presented in Uber’s safety report can be greatly reduced by implementing the tips above. Passengers who use ridesharing applications have every right and expectation to reach their destinations without incident. While Uber, Lyft and the like appear to be heading in the right direction, by upping safety protocols and options for riders, they still have a long way to go. Know and practice rideshare apps safety every single time.
Whether it’s a violent crime or a motor vehicle accident, age old mantras, like being aware of your surroundings and not being afraid to say no, are very applicable to today’s rideshare climate. Although millions of people use rideshares every day without a problem, you should always hope for the best, but be prepared for any issue that may arise. Knowing rideshare apps safety benefits and empowers you.
As rideshare use increases, the laws governing them as well as rights of passengers and drivers will change as well. Working with a local New Port Richey attorney will ensure that your attorney knows how to best apply any local laws for the benefit of your case.