Millions of people count on ride share companies like Uber and Lyft for a safe, convenient ride.
But stories like Samantha Josephson’s raise questions about what riders can do to help maximize their safety. Police say the 21-year-old University of South Carolina student was killed after she got into a car she thought was her Uber.
Although the Uber and Lyft apps have built in safety mechanisms, there are steps you can take to help ensure your own safety.
Here are some key safety tips from Uber and the Horry County Police department:
Wait for your ride indoors
This prevents you from standing outside unnecessarily with a phone in your hand, signaling to passing motorists that you’re waiting for someone to pick you up.
“To give yourself some more time and distance to positively identify the vehicle that’s picking you up,” Horry County Police Capt. John Harrelson said.
Confirm details when the car arrives
Pay attention to the make, model, and color of the car, as well as the driver’s name and photo. Match the license plate number on your screen to the one you see in real life.
“Be very obvious to them,” Harrelson said. “Maybe take a picture of their tag when you get there and say, ‘hey I’m sending this to my friend’ and literally send it to your friend.”
Map your own route during the ride
This is especially important if you’re in a different city and aren’t familiar with the route. By monitoring your own GPS navigation, you’ll see if the driver is leading you astray.
Don’t share private information with your driver
This includes your personal phone number. The Uber app automatically encrypts both the driver’s number and the passenger’s digits to protect both sides’ privacy.
You should never share credit card info with the driver. All Lyft and Uber fares are paid through the app, and tips can be added there, too.
Tell someone where you’re going and who you’re with
The Trusted Contacts tab in the Uber app’s settings lets you share any trip status with family and friends.
If you find yourself in an emergency situation, Uber has a panic button that will call 911 and share the customer’s location with the dispatcher.
Ask the driver who they’re picking up
If they can’t give you your name as the registered rider then that is a red flag.
On its website, Uber offers 10 safety tips riders can follow to stay safe while using a rideshare service.
- Plan ahead. Before you request a ride, think about where you’re headed and review the safety features in the app so you know how to use them.
- Request your ride inside. Avoid spending unnecessary time outside alone with your phone in your hand. Instead, wait indoors until the app shows your driver has arrived.
- 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. Uber rides can only be requested through the app, so never get in a car with a driver who claims to be with Uber and offers a ride.
- Be a backseat rider. If you’re riding alone, sit in the backseat. This ensures you can safely exit on either side of the vehicle to avoid moving traffic, and it gives you and your driver some personal space.
- Buckle up. The Centers for Disease Control reports that seatbelt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries related to car accidents.
- Share your trip details with a friend. While en route, tap “Share status” in the app to share your driver’s name, photo, license plate, and location with a friend or family member. They can track your trip and see your ETA without downloading the Uber app.
- Protect your personal information. There’s no need to share your phone number or other contact information with your driver. If a rider and driver need to contact each other, the Uber app automatically anonymizes both phone numbers to protect everyone’s privacy.
- Follow your intuition. Trust your instincts and use your best judgment when riding with Uber. And if you ever feel you’re in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.
- Be kind and respectful. As outlined in our community guidelines, please respect your driver and his or her car.
- Give feedback on your trip. Your feedback helps us improve the Uber experience for everyone. Our 24/7 global support team reviews feedback and will follow up with appropriate action on any reports of conduct that violate our community guidelines.