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Ride-Sharing Safety with Uber or Lyft


According to a new study, ride-sharing companies like Uber or Lyft harm the Chicago cab industry. The new study states that 40% of all medallions are inactive with hundreds more in foreclosure or nearing foreclosure. Municipalities use medallions as a permit to drive a taxi.

Why Use Ride-Sharing

So, why the shift from hailing a taxi to ordering an Uber or Lyft on a smartphone?

Ride-sharing services are becoming much more attractive to Chicagoans and suburbanites alike due to the program’s lack of money exchange between riders and drivers. However, ride sharing users should use caution when using these services.  2014 Chicago City Council ordinance that made Uber and Lyft active within the city of Chicago also allowed company drivers to work in the city without taxi medallions, city-regulated fare, fingerprinting or other standards cab companies and their drivers must follow. Though Lyft has instituted its own background check policy, Uber does not have one in place. These obsolete regulations have caused unfortunate circumstances for ride-sharing users.

A 2014 Chicago City Council ordinance failed to regulate ride-sharing companies with the same restrictions. Drivers could work in the city without taxi medallions, city-regulated fare, fingerprinting that other cab companies and drivers must follow. Additionally, although Lyft has instituted its own background check policy, Uber does not have one in place.

This lack of regulations has led to some horrible outcomes. In October 2015, a Boston Uber driver was sentenced to 10-12 years in prison for kidnapping and assaulting his passenger. Similar situations have occurred in San Francisco and Tallahassee. Situations range from drivers threatening to harm passengers to random people acting as Uber drivers attempting to lure people into their vehicles.

Safety Tips for Ride-Sharers


Both Uber and Lyft’s websites provide passengers with safety tips. Here are several tips to keep in mind the next time you need to take a quick trip to Chicago!

Be a backseat rider

Uber advises passengers to ride in the backseat of the vehicle if traveling alone. This ensures the safety of the passenger by allowing her to exit the vehicle with ease in the event that a traffic-related emergency occurs. However, a backseat rider also gives the driver and passenger space. Ultimately, this separation empowers the passenger to take control of any situation. Always keep an exit strategy in case of emergency. Additionally, make sure that the driver does not use their phone while driving. Even as a rider, keep aware of distracted driving.

Share your trip details with a friend

A ride-sharing passenger should share the details of their upcoming travel with a friend or family member. According to Uber spokesperson Kayla Whaling, Uber users can easily share details of their journey through the Uber application. “A family member or a friend who received the link from the rider can actually see the car moving along the distance, and they can see when that person arrives.” Friends and family can access the information by downloading the Uber app to their smartphone. Sharing this information with another person helps to account for any variances in a person’s trip that could lead to unplanned and unfortunate injury.

Protect your personal information

Uber also advises users to not give out their phone number or other personal information to their driver. Riders should use the Uber or Lyft app for all contact. This protects everyone’s information

Verify the identity of the driver and their care before you enter the vehicle

Verifying the identity of the ride-sharing driver before getting in the car. Applications like Uber and Lyft provide

  • the driver’s first name,
  • photo,
  • the vehicle’s license plate number,
  • a visual of the vehicle, and
  • the driver’s rating.

This information is given to prevent passengers from getting into the incorrect vehicle. Unlike traditional taxi cabs that have a tax service emblem on the exterior, no such requirement exists for Uber and Lyft vehicles. Confirming the identity of the driver and the car is the easiest and best way to ensure that the vehicle you are getting in is the correct one.

Wait inside for your ride to come

Uber and Lyft encourage passengers to order their vehicles from inside a building. Then you should wait inside until the vehicle has arrived. Only then should you exit the building since you know the information about the car from the app. The appl also notifies the rider of their vehicle’s arrival. You have no need to wait outside to visibly see when the vehicle arrives! This reduces the chance of passengers being harmed while waiting outside in the dark on the street or in an alley because they can safely wait while in a secure building.

Take note of your driver’s rating

Uber and Lyft allow passengers to rate their driver and experience. Positive ratings lead to a driver being more marketable and desirable for subsequent riders. The rating system encourages good behavior among drivers. Additionally, it provides a tool for riders when considering whether or not they want to ride with a particular driver. Uber provides 24/7 rating monitoring and customer services. Lyft states that any driver that a rider rates 3 stars or below will never be matched with the rider again. Use these ratings to your advantage when selecting a driver for your trip.

Follow your intuition

Like most safety precautions, always follow your intuition and your gut feeling. The Uber website advises passengers to trust what their intuition is telling them. If your gut is telling you to not ride with a specific driver, cancel the driver and try ordering a different one, and, as always, in the event of an emergency, dial 911.

Remember these tips the next time to order an Uber or Lyft, and your journey will be a safe and enjoyable one! However, if you or someone you love has been injured by a ride-sharing car, please contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today for a free consultation.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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