Taking Uber or Lyft? Here are 7 ways to stay safe in your next rideshare.

These days you can hail a rideshare with just a couple of clicks. While convenient, it can feel a bit risky. You are essentially getting into a stranger's car each time you ride. How do you know if you can trust the driver, and what can you do to stay safe?

While most rides occur without any issues, it's best to know what to do in the situations when problems do arise. Here are 7 ways to stay safe in your next rideshare and how to file a serious complaint.

REQUEST A RIDE FROM INSIDE
Avoid spending unnecessary time outside with your phone in your hand. Instead, wait indoors until the app shows your driver has arrived.

CHECK THE DRIVER'S RATING
Rideshare apps give passengers their potential driver's ratings ahead of the car's arrival. If you are uncomfortable with the rating, cancel your ride right away and call another.
Be sure to cancel ASAP to avoid paying a fee.

Uber Cancelation Fees
  • 2 minutes or more pass since a driver accepts your ride request.
  • Your driver is on time to arrive within 5 minutes or the original estimated time.
  • If your Driver cancels the ride after waiting at least 5 minutes at your pickup location.
  • You may be charged a penalty if you cancel trips more than once in a short period of time.
Uber Pool Cancelation Fees
  • You'll be charged a cancelation fee if you cancel more than 1 minute after your POOL request has been accepted.
  • Driver cancels the ride after waiting at least 2 minutes at your pickup location.

Lyft Cancelation Fees
  • 2 minutes or more pass since a driver accepts your ride request.
  • Your driver is on time to arrive within 5 minutes or the original estimated time.
  • Lyft Line rules are a slightly different story. In most cities, you'll be charged a $10 fee for canceling a shared ride after a driver accepts your request.
Both companies allow you to dispute a cancelation fee in the 'past trips' section.

GET IN THE RIGHT CAR
Before you get in the car, check that license plate, driver photo, and driver name all match what's listed in the app. Let the driver say your name first. That will also confirm they are the driver you booked through the app. Rides are only requested through the app. NEVER get in a car with a driver who claims to be with Uber or Lyft and offers a ride.

DON'T RIDE SHOTGUN
Solo riders should sit in the backseat. It creates a slight safety barrier between the passenger and the driver as well as gives you each some personal space.

SHARE YOUR TRIP INFO & ETA
When you're en-route to your spot, use the the app to share details of your driver, car, and route.

How to share your status in an Uber ride
  • When you request a ride and a driver accepts, you can swipe up on your app screen and tap "Send Status".
  • This shares your trip details with friends or family.
  • They'll receive a notification that displays your driver's first name, vehicle info, and your map location in real-time.
  • To pre-select up to 5 contacts to receive your status, select 'Settings' from your app menu. You can also add more contacts manually when sending your trip status.


How to share your ETA in Lyft ride
  • Tap "Send ETA" after requesting a ride to send your friend or family member a text message with an in-app link to your current route and location.
  • They'll be able to see a photo of the driver, vehicle info, and your map location in real-time.

THERE ARE ALSO 3rd PARTY APPS TO HELP KEEP YOU SAFE

Check out Noonlight, bSafe or Kitestring in the app store to see what works best for you.

FOLLOW ALONG IN YOUR OWN MAP APP
Open up your phone's map tool, enter your destination and follow along, noting any odd route shifts. If you become concerned, check in with the driver. Growing uncomfortable, change the destination to something closer and end the ride. If you become fearful, call 911 and get out ASAP.

DON'T OVERSHARE
Feel free to chat but don't reveal too many personal details, like your address and vacation dates. Let's say you are taking a car to the airport, maybe leave out how long you will be gone and that your place will be empty the entire time. People have been known to take advantage of those details and break-in.

Your driver also does not need to know your phone number. If a rider and driver need to contact each other, the app automatically anonymizes both phone numbers to protect everyone's privacy.

HOW TO REPORT SAFETY ISSUES
Contact Uber or Lyft directly when there's a serious issue. Call 911 if you feel that you're in immediate danger or there is an emergency situation.
  • To report and issue to Uber, fill out this form.
  • To report and issue to Lyft, call their critical response line at this link. Click or tap "Call Me" to get started.
These links are for reporting serious violations and safety concerns, such as reckless driving, verbal aggression, or sexual assault. Make note of minor concerns when you rate your driver.

See full coverage on ridshare realities here, and more stories and videos about Building a Better Bay Area here.
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