At Levin Simes, we care about the safety and protection of our communities. Raising awareness of issues is one of the first steps in holding companies such as Uber and Lyft to proper standards in hiring drivers and protecting their customers from sexual assault.
As legal professionals, our efforts go beyond trial and involve advocating for safer practices and features for rideshares in general. We also know that educating the general public about the dangers and risks associated with rideshares can go a long way.
When using a rideshare service, you expect to be treated with courtesy, respect, and professionalism. If you or a loved one were harassed, sexually assaulted, or abused in connection with a rideshare service, you may need to contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights.
Contact Levin Simes at (415) 426-3000 to schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss your options. Our women-led team of attorneys is representing hundreds of survivors seeking to hold Uber and Lyft accountable for sexual assault incidents.
If you use Uber, Lyft, or any other rideshare service, there are several precautions that you can take to help increase safety before, during, and after the trip.
Following these steps not only help you protect yourself—but can also generate important data and information that the companies and local authorities can use to pinpoint deficiencies in rideshare operations.
Here are 9 safety tips to follow when using Uber or Lyft:
As much as you can, try not to take a rideshare if you’re by yourself. Have a friend accompany you whenever possible. If you’re not feeling well or are inebriated, see if you can wait until you feel better to travel.
Many rideshare sexual assault incidents happen when the passenger is alone or in a state where they cannot make crucial safety decisions. There is safety in numbers, especially when it comes to rideshare situations.
Use the app to request Uber or Lyft while you’re still inside a building, not waiting outside alone. Also, customize the pick-up location so you are in a safe location, preferably with others around in the area. If your driver attempts to pick you up at a different location, it may be a warning sign that something isn’t right.
Before entering the vehicle, check to make sure it’s the correct ride. Do the car model and appearance match with the one listed in your app? Is the license plate number accurate? Does the driver look like the person in the profile photo? If any of these don’t line up, cancel the ride and get another one, and report the issue to the rideshare service.
When the driver arrives, ask them first, “Who are you picking up?” That way you aren’t giving out your name and are confirming that they working with the company. After they provide your name, ask them for theirs in case you need to reference it later.
Sit in the backseat in order to create distance between yourself and the driver. Preferably, you will want to choose the furthest seat if possible. Always wear a seatbelt and double-check that you can open the doors from the inside.
Sharing details of your trip lets others know where you’re going, ETA, and other important information. Both Uber and Lyft have features in their app where you can share your trip status. This can be done before, during, and after the trip as needed.
Note that these in-app trip-sharing features might not be available in all cities or locations. There are several other dedicated apps and tools like bSafe that have GPS tracking and SOS button features.
Don’t use your phone or personal number to communicate with the driver. That way they can’t send any follow-up communications or texts after the ride. Also, using the app for communication helps keep records through the company; this can help show whether there are any potential liability issues on the rideshare company’s end.
If you are in an emergency, are being threatened, or simply feel that something isn’t right, call 911 using the app’s emergency features. This usually shares real-time location and trip details directly with the dispatcher. Don’t try to call the rideshare company’s services, as this will be too slow of a response path.
Again, using the app for these functions helps provide a record and digital trail should litigation become necessary against the rideshare company.
Provide as much information as you can when rating your trip or the driver in your app. One of the difficulties in litigating rideshare cases is the lack of statistics and data surrounding these services. Since the concept is fairly new (compared, say, to public transportation), any data that you provide with regards to safety can help greatly in the fight against rideshare sexual assaults.
Even if you were not directly injured or physically assaulted, you should report any concerns or complaints you may have about the company’s safety policies or practices—these are helpful as well in holding rideshare companies accountable for their conduct.
At the moment, it isn’t possible to specifically request a male or female driver through Uber or Lyft. In the meantime, the best course of action to protect yourself is to follow the steps above, especially the tips about confirming your ride information with the driver.
It’s not really possible to fully determine which is safer, whether it be taxis, Uber, or Lyft specifically. There are a few main differences between taxis and rideshare services. For instance, there may be differences in the hiring and background checks between all three of these options.
Taxis might feel safer because they usually have some sort of divider between the driver and the passengers. However, taxis often don’t have dedicated apps like rideshare services usually do. Both taxis and rideshare services have been implicated in sexual kidnapping cases.
Understanding how rideshares work can help patrons reduce the amount of risk they are exposed to. However, even with various safety measures and features, sexual assaults and harassment can still happen when using a rideshare service.
If you or a loved one were assaulted or abused in connection with a ride service, you may be entitled to significant compensation and remedies under the law. Contact Levin Simes at (415) 426-3000 to schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss your legal options and rights confidentially. Our law firm is at the forefront of rideshare sexual assault litigation and has the experience needed to handle these exact types of claims.