Uber and safety have never been the best of friends. Considering how easy it is to become a driver, it’s not a surprise that there are some shady people on the platform. It seems there is always a new story in the news about someone being assaulted, kidnapped, or even killed after an Uber or Lyft ride.
On top of that, it’s common to hear about crash-related Uber accident incidents. Many rideshare drivers aren’t very cautious – the faster they arrive to the destination, the quicker they can pick up their next passenger and make more money.
On the other hand, the rise of Uber and other ride-sharing companies have greatly reduced DUI-related accidents. While Uber and Lyft are the best options to get home after a night of drinking, it’s important to take safety precautions when getting in the car with a stranger.
Uber Accident Statistics
Experts estimate that 2–3% of crashes are caused by drivers from ride-sharing platforms like Lyft and Uber. Although this seems low, crashes still happen pretty often considering how many people are on the road. Scroll down to see what to do if you’re involved in a crash while taking an Uber or Lyft.
As for Uber assault statistics, BuzzFeed News published internal data from the company exposing the number of sexual violence complaints they received. The report suggests that, between December 2012 and August 2015, Uber received close to 6000 tickets with the word “rape” and over 6000 tickets which included the phrase “sexual assault.” Uber insists this data is “highly misleading.”
When these incidents occur, Uber’s customer service reps seem to continually fail to take action and simply try to sweep things under the rug. An email response one is likely to receive likely starts out with a “Thanks for telling us.” Then it leads into a, “Sorry this happened to you.” And they never fail to mention “Safety is our top priority” and follow it up with a “We take this very seriously.” Then the email is closed with a hollow “If there’s anything we can do, don’t hesitate to ask.”
In addition to sexual violence, there are also issues of people impersonating drivers, hackers using people’s uber accounts for free rides, drivers asking for off-app payments, and drivers milking late-payment fees. Since Uber classifies its drivers as independent contractors, the company is able to avoid having to claim responsibility for any malpractice of any particular driver.
What to Do After an Uber Accident
Wondering what happens if you are in an accident with Uber or Lyft? Luckily, most drivers have practices to follow if a crash occurs so you’re not left clueless and stressed.
After a Lyft or Uber car accident, you will need to report any injuries as soon as possible. Since drivers are classified as independent contractors, you will need to first sue the at-fault driver rather than Uber or Lyft directly.
If the person at-fault was NOT your driver, their insurance policy will come into play first. If this doesn’t cover, the Uber accident policy will cover the rest (up to $1 million in damages for injuries). No matter what, injuries should be 100% covered.
Avoiding Dangerous Uber or Lyft Rides
Although an Uber accident is difficult to prevent, you can take measures to prepare yourself for a potentially dangerous situation (such as assault or kidnapping). Here are a few tips to stay safe.
- If possible, ride with a friend or choose a shared ride.
- Check your driver’s history. If they have plenty of 5-star reviews, you probably won’t have a problem. Take a moment and browse through their profile and reviews.
- Before getting in the car, make sure the model and license plate matches what it says on the app. Also, make sure the photo matches the driver.
- Perhaps try calling a couple different Ubers and Lyfts to see if you can get a female driver.
- If you’re in a large city, there might be safer ride-sharing services available (Safr allows you to pick the gender of your driver and has an SOS feature in the app).
- Carry pepper spray and other self-defense tools on your keychain.
- Download an app like Noonlight in case your driver is acting shady. You simply open the app and hold down the button until you are safe. If you release the button without confirming your safety with a PIN number, the police will be called to your location.
- Turn on your location for family members or friends to track before entering the car. You can also send them your ride details on the Uber app.
- Set up an inconspicuous code conversation to use to call a friend or family member in case of an emergency. For example, ask how your dog is doing to alert them to call the police.
- Pay close attention to where the driver is taking you. If you’re not familiar with the area, you should pull up the route on your phone with a Maps app and make sure they’re heading the right away.
- If they’re not taking you to the right place and won’t go the right way, check if the doors are locked. If not, get out of the car when it’s stopped and RUN.
- Learn how to safely jump from a moving car if they aren’t stopping.
- Opt for alternative transportation like Super Shuttle or others that you might find on Shuttlefare. These often cost the same as an Uber ride (plus shuttles are shared with other riders).
What to Do After an Assault
- Try to seek medical assistance immediately (if needed).
- Contact the police.
- Record details of the event down (Notes, Photographs, Video, etc).
- Report the incident to the ridesharing company AND to the Taxi and Limousine Commission(TLC)
- Contact an attorney if you intend to press charges.
If you want to fully avoid an Uber accident or other unsafe situations, consider the various shuttles that you can find on Shuttlefare.