By Ben Halpert, Founder Savvy Cyber Kids, an EarthLink partner

 

Ridesharing services are now commonplace. Everywhere you go, you will see people looking into their phones and watching the road for their incoming ride. We have, in a relatively short amount of time, gotten extremely comfortable with the notion of getting into a stranger’s cars and having them learn our addresses as they take us home. No doubt, being safe when ride-sharing requires your diligent attention – and not just in the car watching the route you are being driven on, but also before you step into the ridesharing vehicle! Don’t let the prevalence and convenience of ride-sharing make you forget your common sense.

After all, there are enough reports of sexual assault, harassment, violence and stalking by rideshare drivers from Uber or Lyft. Not to mention criminals when they see you waiting for your ride, pretending to be Uber or Lyft drivers. Your life may be powered by technology, but there are steps you must take – that the app cannot do for you – to stay safe.

Here is what you need to look out for BEFORE you get into a ride share car:

  • Request your ride from inside a building and wait indoors until the app shows your driver has arrived. If you must wait outside, avoid being alone while waiting for your ride to arrive. This is a great habit even if you are waiting for a parent or friend to pick you up!
  • Before getting in the car, make sure that the license plate, the car type, the driver’s photo and the name match the information on your ride sharing app. Don’t rely on seeing Uber and Lyft emblems and logos on windows and dashboard that could be fakes. Your technology is providing safeguards, use them!
  • Ask the driver the name of the passenger they are picking up before you enter the car.
  • If any of the details provided by your ride sharing app don’t match up, don’t get in the car and report the issue in the app.
  • Don’t sit in the front next to the driver. Sitting in the back creates a safety barrier between you and the driver and it gives you your own personal space.

In the car, do these things to stay safe:

  • Text a friend or loved one to let them know that you’re using a ridesharing service. Check in with them when your ride is done and you have arrived safely. You can also use the share status features within ride-sharing apps that track your trip and show your ETA.
  • Don’t chat too much and reveal personal details just to pass the time. Everyone doesn’t need to know your business, do they? Mentioning how long you’re traveling for, if you will be alone at home, where you live or any personal information is private and should remain so. The less strangers know about you, the better!

On every ride, pay attention to your feelings about safety. Uncomfortable? Call a friend and talk on the phone during the ride. Or call 911 if you feel you are in danger. After your ride, rate your driver and provide feedback about your driver, especially if they made you uncomfortable in any way! Unless you share this information, the ridesharing companies cannot take action if their drivers behave inappropriately.

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Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents, to teachers and students. Sign up for their free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics.