COMMENTARY: Safe rideshare tips start with checking your ride

The recent crime committed by a fake rideshare driver in South Carolina was horrifying and heartbreaking. While no words can alleviate the pain felt by the Josephson family, Uber is committed to continuing to take action to help make our communities safer.

We want every rider to be safe when using Uber. That is why we have been working hand-in-hand with law enforcement since 2016 to create rider safety tips and educate the public about our Check Your Ride steps.

Safety starts with checking your ride. Every time you take a trip with Uber, it is important to make sure you are getting into the right car with the right driver by matching the license plate, car's make and model and the driver photo with what is provided in the app. 

In addition, you can also ask the driver to confirm your name. Your driver sees your name in their app, and your driver’s name is displayed in your app. To safely exchange names, you can ask, “Who are you here to pick up?” The driver may also ask you to confirm their name for their own peace of mind.

If the information does not match, do not get in the car. Instead, go to a safe place and wait for the right car to arrive, or cancel the ride and report it to Uber. If you ever feel you are in an emergency situation or if you feel threatened, call 911 immediately and inform Uber of the incident when it is safe to do so.

Working with universities, we will do more to get the word out. In partnership with the University of South Carolina, we are launching a national effort to help students learn how to avoid fake rideshare drivers. The Campus Safety Initiative will build public awareness of the Check Your Ride steps — use the Uber app to remind riders how to check their ride, and support campus ride programs at major colleges across the country. Our goal is to make checking your ride before you get in the car synonymous with using Uber. 

You may have noticed an email from Uber recently with these Check Your Ride steps, or started to see this information via ads on social media, billboards and in newspapers. 

You will also begin receiving a new push notification after requesting your ride to remind you of the Check Your Ride steps just before your car arrives. The information will also be featured in-app periodically. 

We are also working with law enforcement, entertainment districts and anti-violence advocacy organization NO MORE to expand #DontStandBy, our bystander intervention partnership, across college campuses nationwide during the back-to-school season. Launched in 2018, #DontStandBy is designed to empower the nightlife community — patrons, bar staff and rideshare drivers — to look out for each other and help prevent gender-based violence before it happens.

Starting with the University of South Carolina, we will launch a new tool for universities across the country to provide service for students at hours when other options are limited or unavailable. We will also engage major universities to direct riders to dedicated zones selected by them to facilitate safe and easy pickups.

Uber is deeply committed to your safety. Some of the features you may not know about include the following initiatives.

Driver screenings — Uber screens drivers’ criminal and driving history before allowing them to drive. We also have technology that continuously checks criminal records to flag recent charges that may disqualify a driver from using Uber. 

Tracking every trip with GPS technology — there is a record of every trip. 

Two-way accountability — riders and drivers can report safety issues at all hours of the day and our safety team will respond and take action.

Emergency button and 911 integration — riders can connect directly with 911 through the app with this new feature, which shows real-time location, both on a map and as an address. In select cities, the rider’s location and trip details will be automatically sent to the 911 dispatcher. 

There is nothing more important than the safety of the people we serve — and that is you. We are always working to raise the bar. Whether you are heading home, to class or to the airport, remember these safety features and to check your ride, every time.  

Tracey Bradeen is the Head of Women’s Safety and Gender-Based Violence Programs for Uber. Submission is in response to Targum Editorial ran on April 5.


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