Tens of millions of trips are completed each day by rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft. Ridesharing uses an online platform, like a website or an app, to arrange transportation between passengers who need a lift and drivers who use their own private vehicles.
Most of these trips are completed safely, but when something becomes such an ordinary part of our daily lives, we can easily forget to be aware of potential risks that might be involved.
Knowing the risks of ridesharing is the first step in knowing how to use it safely. We’re sharing some of the most concerning risks along with several tips to reduce your risk and have the safest experience possible.
What Risks Are Involved in Ridesharing?
Potential Risks for Riders
- Getting in a car with fake drivers. It might sound unbelievable, but it happens, and in the worse cases, has resulted in horrible crimes.
- Car accidents. Rideshare passengers often forget about normal vehicle safety since they are not responsible for the ride, leading to poor decisions, such as not wearing seatbelts.
- Unprofessional or dangerous drivers. Even with an annual background check, it can be impossible to know a driver’s intent. In fact, a 2018 survey showed that 8% of respondents in the U.S. felt very unsafe as a passenger when using ridesharing apps.
Potential Risks for Drivers
- Drivers have just as much to worry about as passengers (if not more so, due to multiple hours on the road during shifts) when it comes to road safety. Car, property, and pedestrian accidents are all potential dangers for rideshare drivers.
- Dangerous passengers. Passengers can also pose a threat to a driver, as there is no prior approval process to become a passenger. A rating system can prevent poorly rated passengers from being allowed to return, but if it’s a passenger with no rating history, who’s to say they have pure intentions?
- Insurance liability. Regular car insurance doesn’t cover you when driving for rideshares and the coverage offered through the rideshare companies is extremely limited. Accidents that happen while waiting for a request might be solely your responsibility if you don’t have specialized insurance to cover them.
Making Ridesharing Safer
Thankfully, making constant headway in the safety arena is a top priority for these companies and they are continuously rolling out new improvements and features to do their part in making trips for both drivers and passengers as safe as possible.
But as riders and even drivers, what can we do to help keep ridesharing safe for everyone?
Being Safer as a Rider
- Wait in a safe, public place. Rideshare is an on-demand service. Wait indoors in a safe area until your ride arrives.
- Verify make, model, license plate, and photo of driver BEFORE entering vehicle. This information is all provided on your rideshare app. Never get into a vehicle whose description isn’t an exact match.
- Ask the driver to verify your name BEFORE entering the vehicle. The driver is also given your information as a rider, so ask them the name of the passenger they are picking up to verify their legitimacy. If they can’t provide it for any reason, do not get in the vehicle.
- Travel in groups, if possible. There’s safety in numbers, so when you can, ride with friends. You can also take advantage of carpooling opportunities.
- Always wear your seatbelt. Don’t assume that road safety rules are different when ridesharing. Accidents happen all the time and seatbelts save lives.
- Share your trip. Take advantage of this safety feature on your rideshare app to share your trip with one or more trusted friends who can track your trip in real time.
- Go with your gut. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, before or during your ride, remove yourself from the situation as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Being Safer as a Driver
- Stay focused and avoid distractions. These are basic rules of the road, but when you’re a rideshare driver, it isn’t just your life in your hands, so be extra careful. Don’t talk on the phone or drive when you’re sleepy or distracted.
- Pass on poorly rated passengers. If a passenger has a mediocre rating, don’t feel obligated to take the request.
- Be aware of passenger behavior. Keeping a mindful presence of the passenger’s behavior during the drive can help you remain safe. Odd, aggressive, or any behavior that makes you feel unsafe warrants pulling over in a safe place to end the ride.
- Use your rideshare companies’ safety tools. Companies like Uber and Lyft have many safety features in place for you and the rider. Tools like an emergency assistance button, GPS tracking, and route following technology are a few examples.
- Get supplemental insurance. Don’t rely on your personal car insurance or coverage through your rideshare company to cover you. It’s very likely there will be gaps in coverage should an accident happen. Getting specialized insurance that covers rideshare drivers is imperative to avoiding costly repairs or liability.
Is Ridesharing Worth It?
While these warnings and tips might have you running for the hills instead of ridesharing your way to them, these risks are not the majority. As we mentioned, millions of rides take place every day and are safe and successful. But being aware of potential risks is more important than being naïve, especially when you can do so much to prevent them.
Ridesharing can be incredibly convenient for riders and a great way to earn extra income for drivers. If you’re currently or are interested in becoming a rideshare driver, check out our Uber/Lyft Driver Coverage to make sure that you aren’t left with unwanted costs should an accident happen on the job.