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Ensuring Your Safety w. Uber & Lyft

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by Thomas Hall with Cutter Law in California and presented with information they have been collecting and writing about regarding safety risks in rideshare services (Uber and Lyft). In reviewing their information, it clear this is a much larger issue than I was aware of and wanted to share this information forward with any potential readers.


Living in a city with several post-secondary institutions, such as London, comes with unique challenges and risks, especially for young women. As a psychotherapist working with many female students, I've heard numerous accounts of unsafe encounters during rideshare journeys. The convenience of services like Uber, Lyft, and traditional taxis can sometimes be overshadowed by safety concerns, particularly in a city where nightlife and social activities are prevalent. This post aims to provide valuable insights and practical tips for ensuring your safety when using rideshare services whether it's in London or any city providing rideshare services.


While Rideshare services offer numerous benefits that make them an attractive transportation option, especially for students and young professionals. The convenience of booking a ride through a smartphone app, the availability of rides at any time of day, and the generally lower cost compared to traditional taxis are significant advantages. For those without access to a personal vehicle, rideshares provide a reliable and flexible means of getting around the city.


Additionally, rideshare services can reduce the need for parking, alleviate traffic congestion, and even contribute to environmental sustainability by decreasing the number of cars on the road. The ease of use and widespread availability of these services have made them an integral part of urban transportation in cities like London, Ontario.


However, understanding the safety landscape of rideshare services is crucial for users. According to the London Police Service, there have been several incidents involving rideshare drivers charged with harassment, forcible confinement, and assault. While comprehensive data specific to London is less readily available, similar trends observed in larger cities such as Toronto can offer some insight.

In Toronto, for instance, the Toronto Police Service reported 47 incidents of sexual assault involving rideshare drivers in 2020. Although London is smaller, it is still essential for riders to remain vigilant and take proactive measures to ensure their safety.


How to Ensure Safety When Using Services Like Uber, Lyft, and Taxis

  1. Verify Your Ride: Always verify the details of the car and driver before getting into a rideshare vehicle. Check the license plate, car make and model, and the driver's photo through the app. Ask the driver to confirm your name before entering the vehicle.

  2. Share Your Trip Details: Use the app's built-in feature to share your trip details with a friend or family member. This provides real-time tracking of your journey and ensures someone else knows your whereabouts.

  3. Choose Your Pickup Location Wisely: Avoid requesting a pickup in isolated or poorly lit areas. Opt for locations with plenty of people and good lighting to enhance your safety while waiting for your ride.

  4. Sit in the Back Seat: Whenever possible, sit in the back seat of the vehicle. This gives you more personal space and an exit on either side of the car, enhancing your ability to leave the vehicle quickly if needed.

  5. Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off about the driver or the situation, trust your instincts. Do not hesitate to cancel the ride and request another one. It's better to be safe than to ignore your gut feeling.

  6. Use In-App Emergency Features: Most rideshare apps have built-in emergency features that allow you to call emergency services or alert the rideshare company if you feel unsafe. Familiarize yourself with these features before your ride.

  7. Rate and Report: After your ride, rate your driver honestly and report any concerns to the rideshare company. This helps maintain a safe environment for all users and holds drivers accountable for their behavior.

Special Considerations for Vulnerable Populations

As a social worker, I understand that certain populations may feel more vulnerable when using rideshare services. Women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities might have unique concerns. It's crucial for these individuals to take additional precautions, such as traveling with a companion when possible and avoiding rides late at night.


Women

Women, particularly young women and students, often feel vulnerable when using rideshare services, especially late at night. Here are some additional tips specifically for female riders:

  • Travel in Groups: Whenever possible, share your rides with friends or colleagues. There is safety in numbers, and having a companion can deter potential misconduct.

  • Use Female-Only Services: Some cities offer female-only rideshare options or services that allow you to request a female driver. Explore these options if they are available in your area. https://getwilma.app/about/#_locations - WILMA - Women Driving Women is available in London, ON.

  • Carry Safety Devices: Consider carrying a personal safety alarm or pepper spray. Ensure you know how to use these devices effectively.

LGBTQ+ Individuals

LGBTQ+ individuals may face unique challenges when using rideshare services, including the risk of discrimination or harassment. To enhance safety:

  • Use Discreet Language: When discussing your destination or personal details, use neutral language to avoid drawing unnecessary attention.

  • Report Discrimination: Immediately report any incidents of discrimination or harassment to the rideshare company. Most platforms have strict policies against such behavior and will take action.

  • Seek Community Resources: Connect with local LGBTQ+ organizations for resources and support related to transportation safety.

People with Disabilities

Individuals with disabilities may encounter physical barriers and safety concerns when using rideshare services. Here are some tips to improve safety and accessibility:

  • Request Accessible Vehicles: Use the app's feature to request a vehicle that can accommodate your specific needs, such as a wheelchair-accessible car.

  • Communicate Clearly: Clearly communicate any special requirements to your driver through the app's messaging system before the ride begins.

  • Plan Ahead: If you have a regular routine, try to schedule rides in advance to ensure availability and reduce wait times in potentially unsafe areas.

General Safety Measures for All Vulnerable Populations

  • Stay Alert: Avoid distractions such as using your phone excessively or falling asleep during the ride. Staying alert and aware of your surroundings can help you notice any unusual behavior early.

  • Know Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with the rights provided by the rideshare company. Most platforms have clear guidelines on rider safety and conduct that drivers must adhere to.

  • Document Incidents: If you experience any form of harassment or unsafe behavior, document the incident as thoroughly as possible. Take screenshots of your trip details and driver information, and write down any specific occurrences.

  • Utilize Support Services: Seek support from local organizations that offer services and resources for vulnerable populations. These organizations can provide additional guidance and support in navigating transportation safety.



For additional information, I highly recommend reviewing the Cutter Law link below as it provides their own Rideshare Guide. https://cutterlaw.com/sexual-assault-ride-sharing-guide/


Stay Safe,

Ali



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