You’re away at college and without your own wheels so you rely on a rideshare service to get to where you need to go. Or maybe you have an evening out planned with your friends, and rather than ask one of your companions to be your designated driver, decide to call a local rideshare company when it’s time to head home.
Rideshare services can be a boon to college students but they aren’t without risks. For its first annual Reckless Ridesharing Report, DriversEd.com surveyed 553 U.S. adults who had ridden in a rideshare service in the past 12 months.
Study results showed:
- 35% of the passengers reported they have felt their rideshare driver was driving recklessly
- 29% said they have seen the driver reading or sending texts on their phone
- 16% said they have seen the driver checking social media on their phone.
Another 12% suspected the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. (The full 2020 Reckless Ridesharing Report, which includes additional analysis and insights, as well as safety tips for rideshare passengers, is available here.)
We asked Laura Adams, senior safety and education analyst at DriversEd.com, our top three questions about how college students can safely use rideshare services. Here are her responses.
What can college students do to help ensure their own safety when using ridesharing services?
They need to be vigilant about confirming the identity or safety of a rideshare driver. Before getting into a vehicle, it’s critical to make sure that the driver is legitimate by asking, “Who are you here to pick up?” If they can’t provide your name or don’t match the driver photo in the app, don’t get in the vehicle.
Students who travel in pairs may improve their ability to negotiate a dangerous situation more effectively. When possible, they should only sit in the back seat, so they could exit from either side of the vehicle more quickly if needed.
How can a college student get out of an unsafe rideshare situation?
College students on an unsafe ride should first politely and directly say something to the driver. If the problem persists, they should end the ride as soon as they arrive in a safe area. They can follow their route using the app or another GPS app to see their location and tell the driver that they need to end the trip.
If they feel unsafe, they can share their ride and location using the app or call a friend or family member to let them know where they are and their expected time of arrival at a destination. And when they are in danger, they should always call 911. Then, once the ride is over, report the driver to their respective company.
Both Uber and Lyft offer in-app safety services. For Uber, riders can use the safety toolkit, which they can access by clicking on the shield icon in the Uber app. This allows riders to share their trip with loved ones, contact 911 and verify the driver’s information. Lyft also has safety features built into its app, including the ability to share the passenger’s location and route in real-time with a friend or loved one, and In-ride 911 to get emergency help right from the app.
Do you have some specific tips for those who are using ridesharing services?
- Wait for your ride inside a safe building.
- Share your trip status with one or more friends or family members through the app.
- Verify a vehicle’s make, model, and license plate number against what appears in the app.
- Ask the driver for their name and who they are picking up.
- Call 911 or use the emergency call in the app if you believe that you’re in danger.
“Overall, trust your gut,” says Adams. “If you feel something seems ‘off’ about your driver, route, or anything else about your ride, always trust your instincts and take action to address the situation.”
Photo Credit: Pablo