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Drew: Safety tips when using Uber or Lyft

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

Technology has changed the way we live our lives forever. It’s get on board now – if you are a technology immigrant (those who did not grow up with technology) – because life now and in the future will have driven so far down the track, it will be almost impossible to catch up.

The technology natives (those who don’t know life without technology) navigate it with ease. It is truly embedded into their daily lives. They gather information, organize information and use information with just a few clicks on their computer or smartphone. These few clicks can now allow you to book a ride from a private driver by using Uber or Lyft services.

Their apps allow you to book their services by using the smartphone application without using cash. Using GPS, the phone sends a signal to the closest driver available to pick you up from your current location and transport you to your desired location. Where both Uber and Lyft are services who state they vet their drivers, unfortunate passenger sexual assaults have occurred. There have even been incidents that individuals who don’t work for the company have posed as a ride-share driver. Where these incidents have been few, one is always too many. Let’s share some safety tips you, as a passenger, can use to keep yourself safe.

Begin by becoming familiar with the safety features the company has in their application so you will know how to use it to help secure your safety. Always request your driver when using your phone inside. It is never a good idea to stand outside alone looking at or talking on your cell phone, especially at night. Try to eliminate any unnecessary time outside alone. It is better to wait inside because the app will notify you when your driver has arrived.

Just don’t jump immediately into the vehicle. Take time to check the license plate, the driver’s photo and driver’s name to make sure they all match what is listed on your app. Remember ride-share services can only be requested using their particular app. Therefore, never get inside a car with a driver who claims to work for either Uber or Lyft and offers you a job. I understand it’s an extra step you may not think is necessary, especially if you’re leaving a bar or social event that involves alcohol, but your safety must ultimately be worth those few extra minutes to conduct a safety check.

Make it a habit to sit in the back. It provides a privacy buffer between the passenger and the driver. It also always gives you the advantage to exit quickly if necessary.

If you’re riding alone use the share status app feature to notify a friend of your driver and vehicle license plate. It is best to ride with a group of three or four, when possible. Whether you’re in a group or alone, use your phone to make sure the driver is taking you the most direct route.

Trust your instincts. Call 911 immediately if an emergency occurs. Avoid giving out personal information while talking to the driver or on the cell phone where the driver can hear. Stay on your cell phone if you feel uncomfortable.

While Keeping an Eye on Safety when using ride-share services like Uber or Lyft is crucial, being kind and respectful to your driver and their vehicle is also important. Providing feedback helps the company improve their services, so please do so. This makes the company aware if they need to take any actions relative to a driver.