Skip to main content

Ridesharing Safely During the Holidays

By December 27, 2022February 9th, 2023Sex Abuse, Uber

Uber and Lyft apps will experience chronic overbooking (COB) from now till New Year’s because holiday passengers are COB’d, too. December is the season when the highest percentage of rides are booked — more passengers are thrown into the statistical pool documenting hundreds of thousands of rides. There is Christmas, Hanukkah, Las Posadas, Soyal, Christmastide, Yule, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa each having their own distinctive December celebrations. And the more people celebrate, the more the need for rideshares.

Heads up: Rideshare is safer than it was in 2014 or 2020, but let us not forget Uber’s staggering 2019 report revealing it had received 6,000 serious sexual assault reports over 2017-2018, far more than the company previously reported. In its second “transparent safety report covering 2019-2020,” Uber said it received 3,824 reports of the five most severe categories of sexual assault, ranging from “non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part” to “non-consensual sexual penetration,” aka, rape (a 38% decline).

Last October, Lyft released its first ever safety report disclosing it received 4,158 reports of sexual assault on its platform in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

In September, 13 women accused Uber drivers of new assaults, citing the company’s failure to protect. And an off-the-book Lyft driver was accused in October of multiple incidents in the Denver area. Sporadic recent reports have sprung up around Boston, Atlanta, Seattle, NYC, LA. We not interested in scaring you. We do want you to arrive safely wherever you’re going.

A Case for Women has been fighting for rideshare safety since its inception in 2016. We  claim partial, indirect credit for leveraging many new legislation precautions and enhanced in-app safety features incorporated to prevent harm or stop it in motion.

Further, new Uber partner driver screening is handled like no-fly restrictions. On the plus side, every new Uber driver must undergo a background check, in accordance with the law, run by a specialized company, before they can start driving in the Uber platform. With ‘Real-Time Identification,’ the platform asks drivers to share a selfie with the company, which it matches against their on-file identification to prevent driver account sharing.

And Uber’s biannual “transparent safety reports” are required by law, though the company is known to continue bucking authorities on this matter.

“Uber receives a complaint, investigates the complaint, makes a finding and handles said finding internally and privately,” said Terry Harman, Santa Clara County, California, assistant district attorney. “Uber has essentially carved out its own justice system.” Harman noted that her law offices prosecute dozens of sexual assault cases each year, but only one this year involved an Uber driver. If Uber isn’t reporting all its cases, then the safety report numbers may be significantly underrepresented.

Heads up, everybody. Here’s a refresher course on the basics:

  • Request and wait for your ride from indoors. Avoid lingering outside alone while looking down at your phone.
  • Check your driver’s rating. Be sure your driver has prior experience and a good rating.
  • Share your trip with a trusted friend or family member. Share your whereabouts with someone other than who you’re with so they know when you plan to arrive or make it home safely.
  • Confirm the car, license plate and driver before getting in. Be sure the information on your rideshare app about your driver matches the vehicle you get into.
  • Sit in the back seat on the passenger side. Sitting in the front seat increases your proximity and chance of contact with the driver.
  • Wear your seatbelt. Seatbelts are there to protect you in the event of an accident. Buckle up.
  • Keep your personal information confidential. There’s nothing wrong with conversing with your driver, just plan to leave your personal information out of the conversation.
  • Never pay cash. Taking out your wallet to tip may put you at risk of theft. Uber and Lyft offer the ability to tip through their apps.
  • Know your surroundings. When you’re in an unfamiliar area, track your route on your own map to be sure the driver is taking you to the correct place.
  • Every Uber trip is tracked through GPS. Uber has a dedicated team specially trained to support users on every issue.
  • You can discreetly connect with an ADT security professional from your Lyft app if you feel unsafe. ADT provides live support in uncomfortable situations and, if necessary, they can alert authorities and share important ride details, like your GPS geolocation and the vehicle’s license plate number.

Happy holidays to us all, everyone. ACFW sincerely wants you safe and sound to enjoy this joyful season. Spread your cheer but keep your eyes open.