Rideshare Risks: How Safe Are You When You Order a Lyft or Uber?


In today’s world, ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber have become synonymous with convenience and accessibility. Whether it is a late-night ride home from a party, a commute to work, or anything in between, these platforms offer a solution to transportation needs with just a few taps on a smartphone. However, there are a variety of safety concerns that every rideshare user should be aware of. Users should follow essential safety tips to ensure a secure journey every time you order a ride.

Understanding the Risks

From car collisions to assaults and scams, passengers can find themselves in vulnerable situations when they enter a rideshare vehicle. According to the most recent U.S. Safety Report published by Uber (2019-2020), incidents of crashes, sexual assault and misconduct remain a prevalent concern. Should you experience any form of misconduct, it is crucial to report it and keep a record of your reports, as well as any responses received from the company.

The total number of sexual assault reports across the five categories included in Uber’s U.S. Safety Report decreased from 5,981 in the period of 2017-2018 to 3,824 in the period of 2019- 2020. The categories of sexual assault outlined in Uber’s report encompass various forms of non- consensual contact, including kissing and touching of “non-sexual” and “sexual” body parts, as well as attempted sexual penetration. However, it is important to recognize that the actual scope of the issue may be obscured by underreporting, influenced by factors such as fear or shame. Additionally, certain reported incidents are excluded from the report under specific circumstances. For example, incidents deemed “not Uber-related” include those where the driver was online with no trip requests or where the incident occurred more than 48 hours after trip completion. Another issue that comes up is relying upon the person documenting the complaint to accurately state the nature of the assault. At times, these descriptions can be minimized by the documenting employee for a variety of reasons.

Safety Measures Implemented by Ridesharing Companies

Both Lyft and Uber claim they have implemented safety features and policies to address these concerns. They boasts background checks for drivers, safety programs, and in-app

emergency assistance. While these measures aim to enhance passenger safety, questions regarding their reliability persist. For instance, there may be lapses in the background check process, raising doubts about the thoroughness of screening procedures.

An obvious way to improve rider and driver safety would be to install inside cabin cameras that track the inside of the car during the ride. This would deter both parties from misconduct as the incidents could be captured. Importantly, this device must store all recordings on a cloud to prevent the perpetrator from intentionally destroying this surveillance after the misconduct.

Common Safety Concerns/Personal Safety Tips for Passengers

Passengers should be proactive in ensuring safety when entering a rideshare vehicle. This includes choosing well-lit, monitored pickup/drop-off locations when possible, verifying driver information to ensure that the name and picture provided match the individual in the car and checking the vehicle details before getting in. There are many media examples (both real-life and fictional) of people getting into the wrong vehicle! At times, it is simply a brief inconvenience, while other instances result in extreme danger. It is always worth taking the few seconds required to confirm the details of your ride!

Steer clear of sharing any personally identifiable information, including your full name, address, phone number, email, or social security number. This data could be exploited for scams and even pose risks such as stalking. When exchanging names, opt for a safer approach by asking, “Who are you here to pick up?” instead of assuming, “Are you here for insert your own name?” This precaution is essential as potential assailants might deceive you into believing they are your designated ride.

Despite ridesharing companies’ assertions of conducting thorough background checks on drivers before their initial ride, as well as annual updates and ongoing monitoring for any new criminal charges, there are situations where individuals slipped through the cracks. Instances where drivers with criminal histories or past reported safety incidents were permitted to continue working raise significant concerns regarding passenger safety.

Avoid selecting the carpool or shared feature, which offers the opportunity to ride with strangers on your route. Despite the cost savings, this choice heightens the risk since passengers may not always be familiar. Unlike drivers who undergo background checks, riders aren’t subjected to similar precautions. It is crucial to promptly report any instances of unsafe or disrespectful behavior to the rideshare company and, if necessary, to authorities.

Always notify at least one trusted individual about your ride, including the estimated time of arrival. This practice is important even when the driver does not look “threatening,” as collisions can occur without warning. Any delays during your trip could signal potential danger, and having someone informed can aid in seeking emergency assistance. Both Uber and Lyft offer the option to share trip details directly within their apps with selected contacts, providing essential information such as the driver’s name, photo, vehicle details, and real-time route tracking.

Remain attentive to your surroundings while utilizing rideshares. While it might be tempting to multitask on your phone, assuming your safety is assured with the driver, staying alert is crucial for reaching your destination safely.

Addressing Emergencies

If faced with emergencies while on a rideshare journey, passengers should make personal safety their top priority. Utilize in-app emergency assistance features and contact authorities if necessary. If any suspicion of danger arises before entering the vehicle, consider canceling the ride and requesting another. Throughout the ride, if you feel unsafe due to hazardous driving behaviors or inappropriate conduct (including verbal remarks, you do not have to wait for a physical incident), you have the right to request an immediate end to the trip. Exiting the vehicle should occur in well-lit and monitored areas to minimize any further risk of danger. After each trip, it is essential to give feedback to address any safety issues. Even if you do not encounter the same person again, your feedback can alert the company to potential risks associated with specific individuals. Your report could lead to enhanced safety protocols or the removal of dangerous individuals from the platform, making a significant impact on overall safety measures.

What To Do If You Were Assaulted During a Rideshare?

  1. If you had an incident during a rideshare, the first thing you should do is get to a safe place with someone you trust.
  2. If you are comfortable doing so, consider immediately reporting the incident to the police so that they may quickly gather evidence to hold the perpetrator accountable.
    • (We understand there are a variety of reasons many survivors do not report their assaults to law enforcement so it is most important to handle the matter in the best way under your circumstances)
  3. If you are comfortable doing so, consider obtaining a sexual assault forensic exam also known as a SART exam. This exam gathers DNA evidence from your body, clothes, and other personal belongings to help preserve evidence.
    • Palm Beach County has a facility dedicated to helping survivors gather this evidence in the most comfortable setting possible. More information can be found out about it here.
  4. Consider consulting with your personal mental health therapist or someone you trust.
  5. Consider obtaining trauma informed legal counsel to help assist you in protecting your rights.


While ridesharing offers undeniable convenience, it is essential to recognize and address the associated risks. By staying informed, exercising caution, and utilizing available safety measures, passengers can take proactive steps to enhance their safety. However, it is crucial for ridesharing companies to continually reassess and improve their safety protocols to provide a secure environment for both passengers and drivers alike.

Prioritize your safety when using ridesharing services. Share your experiences or additional safety tips in the comments. For more information on safety guidelines, visit the ridesharing company’s website or access their safety reports. Remember, your safety is paramount. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and stay safe on the road!


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