What do you know about rideshares like Uber or Lyft? If you are one of the millions of users worldwide, then you understand the convenience of pushing a button on an app and having a nearby driver assigned to you. They are cost effective, easy-to-use and, if used effectively, can cut down on carbon emissions in our busy cities.

Rideshares are also making the news lately, not because of their positive attributes, but rather for the tragedies seen on the news surrounding the lack of regulation, inconsistent precautions taken by users when using the service, and for “grey areas” when it comes to insurance.

What are Rideshares?

According to RideGuru, rideshares like Uber, Lyft, Juno, or Via are similar to traditional taxicabs but instead of hailing a car on the street or calling a dispatch service, rideshares offer a smartphone application that you can use to call a car with a single push of a button. A nearby car then, is automatically assigned to you, and, using your phone’s GPS location, will find its way to you to pick you up. You can even get an estimate of your wait time before the car arrives.

One of the greatest aspects of these rideshares is that once the ride is over, there is no need to find your cash to pay or give a tip. Most rideshares have a built-in payment system in the app. This means that once you enter you credit card you have it stored for when you need it after a night out with friends. No hunting for cash in your wallet makes these services even better!

Who’s Using Rideshare Services?

If you have not used a rideshare in the past, you are not alone. Although the services have been available in the United States for the last decade, they tend to be used by a certain demographic. A little over one-third of Americans regularly use a rideshare service. Mostly that is because we love our cars and the independence that comes with driving. Also, it is due to the fact that rideshares are used overwhelming by the younger generation. Eighteen to twenty-nine year olds are the largest group using this service. Statistics show that these young adults living in cities, and the suburbs right around cities, are the lionshare of the industry’s users.

The Perils of Rideshares

Rideshares do allow for an appealing alternative to a taxi cab or using public transportation. They are easy to use, pay for, and find in your area. Unfortunately, there are also dangers in this mostly unregulated industry. Last month, there was a tragic death of a University of South Carolina student who was last seen getting into her Uber ride after a night out with friends. Investigators believe she mistook the car for her Uber. Two days later she was found deceased in the woods by hunters in the area.

The death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson has illuminated the need for the precautions that all riders should take when ordering any rideshare. Here are a few suggestions that can help keep you safe.

Precautions to Take  

  • Before getting into your Uber, ask the driver their name, license number, and confirm that their photo matches what is on the app.
  • Ask the driver what your name is to clarify that they are meant to pick you up.
  • Travel in groups whenever possible.
  • Do not share personal information with the driver.
  • Check the driver’s rating on the app. Give feedback on your driver after you have arrived at your destination.
  • Wear your seatbelt.
  • Sit in the backseat. This allows for personal space, and means you can exit on either side of the car to avoid moving traffic.
  • Let your friends know your plans.
  • Take a screenshot of the driver profile and send it to a trusted friend who knows you’re using rideshare
  • If you feel unsafe, if possible, get out of the vehicle and report your driver.

Rideshares can be safe, convenient, and easy. Just take precautions and trust your intuition. How often do you use rideshares? Let us know what your experience has been.