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How to stay safe taking an Uber

From childhood we’re told not to take rides with strangers. But in the 21st century, riding with strangers has changed how we get around town. Ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft have revolutionized transportation, making it cheaper and easier than ever to get where you need to go.

But ride-hailing apps come with risks, too. In March, a University of South Carolina student was killed when she got into a car she mistook for her Uber. Other crimes against Uber and Lyft passengers have been reported since the apps took off, too.

Staying alert and following some tips can help you stay safe while getting the most out of ride-hailing services.

Know the car, know the driver

Every time you book an Uber, the app provides you with the make, model, color and license plate number of the vehicle providing your ride. It also gives you the driver’s name. If any of these details don’t match once your ride shows up, that’s a red flag and you should not get in the car.

Ask the driver your name

Just as you receive information about the driver, the driver receives information about you, including your first name. Before you get in the vehicle, ask the driver to confirm your name. Saying something like “Who are you here to pick up?” can be the difference between a safe ride and imminent danger.

Sit in the backseat

Not only does sitting in the backseat keep you safe when exiting – allowing you to get out either side of the vehicle – it creates a buffer between you and the driver. This can provide peace of mind and give you the space to react in case of an emergency.

Share with friends

Both Uber and Lyft have features that let you share your location in real time with friends or loved ones. This will let someone know if you go off course or don’t arrive at your destination at the scheduled time. Uber also has a built-in feature that alerts the app’s staff if your driver deviates from the planned route.

Trust your gut

Perhaps your strongest defense is your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to cancel a trip. If your ride is in progress and something seems amiss, Uber and Lyft both have in-app buttons that allow you to directly contact emergency dispatchers.

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