Ride sharing with Uber of Lyft can be an amazing tool for teens and their parents. It is a great way for them to get from point A to point B when public transportation options are unavailable. For college students, it can remove any temptation to drive after drinking and it can allow them to have a good time with their friends without having to worry about designating a driver. The evening ends, an Uber is called and everyone gets home safely.
And yet we worry: for good reason. We’ve just spent the last 18 years telling our kids not to talk to strangers but then we let them climb into cars with, well, strangers. Actually, we encourage them to take rides with strangers. We tell them don’t drive, it’s easier to Uber.
Is it Safe to Take an Uber?
Here’s what teens and college kids (truly all of us) can do to increase their safety and our peace of mind while using an Uber or Lyft ride-sharing service.
Ride Share Safety Tips
1. Make certain that the driver has a decent rating and has given a lot of rides. This information is all available in the application. And if you are assigned a driver who has a sub-par rating or who seems to lack experience, assure your kids that it’s fine to cancel the ride and request another driver.
2. Confirm that the car and driver on the reservation indicated are consistent with the one that arrived. At airports or crowded streets it can be all too easy to quickly climb into the wrong car, sometimes with tragic outcomes.
Urge your kids to slow down for a moment and double check everything. Your teen should ask the driver, “What’s My Name?” and make sure the driver tells them the name of the passenger they are picking up rather than first offering their own name for confirmation.
3. During the ride your teen can follow along with the trip in real time, noting any strange shifts in direction that are not on the designated route shown in the app.
4. There is additional functionality designed to aid safety. Share My Trip (Uber) and Send ETA (Lyft) allows riders to share their trip with contacts they have designated. In Uber you can use Manage Trusted Contacts, inside settings, to designate 5 contacts with whom to share your ride information. Uber will remind you to share the information during your ride.
Up to 5 friends or family members can watch your trip in real time and you they can know the name of your driver in addition to the vehicle information. Using the Lyft ETA function a rider can send a friend a photo of the driver, vehicle color, make, model, and license plate number of the car and the friend can track their journey in real time.
5. If you are using a ride sharing service that does not offer this type of tracking you can always snap a photo of the car and it’s license plate before, and send it to a friends or family member, before the ride commences.
6. This spring Uber enabled direct calls to the emergency service, 911, from inside the Uber app. Swipe up to see the safety toolkit and the 911 button, panic button, is right there. By pushing the button you are giving the police your location details as well as details about the car.
Lyft also has a Critical Response Line inside the app for any traveller who is worried about their ride. They suggest that in an emergency riders contact 911 and then reach out to the Critical Response Line, which is available 24/7.
7. Both Lyft and Uber are monitoring every trip and are alerted when a driver deviates from their designated journey.
So although no one can guarantee complete safety, using the tips above can help you breathe easier as your child benefits from ride sharing services.