Tips for using ride services safely

Date: April 2, 2019

Ferguson Township Police have observed that ride services like Uber and Lyft have helped to significantly reduce the number of driving under the influence (DUI) violations on weekends when people are drinking heavily. But they advise caution when using these services, particularly when alcohol may impair judgment and cognitive skills. 

Last fall, the State College Police Department reported two sexual assaults by a man posing as an Uber driver. Last month in South Carolina, a student who accepted a ride from someone posing as an Uber driver was killed.

Ride services follow a number of precautions to keep riders safe, including a background check on the applicant's driving record and criminal history. Screenings check for moving violations, drinking- and drug-related offenses, violent crime, and felonies.

Safety tools built into ride service apps may include an emergency assistance button, 24/7 incident support, and ways to stay in touch with trusted family and friends to share the details of your trip. They also monitor the driver's safety record and track each trip using GPS.

Reportedly, the first victim did not check the identity of the driver and vehicle to be sure they matched the description of the ride she ordered. The second was approached by a driver asking if she wanted a ride. There are steps that passengers can take to ensure they are getting into a car with an approved, screened, trustworthy and safe driver:

Get into the right car

  • Before you get into a car, make sure the driver, car's make and model, and license plate number match the information provided to you when you ordered a ride 
  • Ask for the driver's name to ensure it matches the name provided to you in the app
  • Trust your instincts and use your best judgment. Sit in the backseat -- away from the driver -- and determine a safe escape route should you need one
  • Tell a friend or family member when you're calling for a ride and let them know where you're headed
  • Protect your personal information 

Check your preferred ride service's website for additional safety tips