Even just five years ago, if you wanted a chauffeured ride in NYC, you were limited to the options of calling your local car service or standing outside and waiting for an empty, on-duty cab to drive by (which, unless, you were in prime areas of Manhattan, meant you could be waiting a long time). Now, ridesharing app services like Uber and Lyft have changed everything, bringing down prices for rides and extending car service all across the city. But, unlike taxi and livery services which tend to employ long-term drivers, these ridesharing apps employ “independent contractors” who may never have driven professionally before or even had face-to-face interaction with any types of supervisors or managers at Uber or Lyft. This calls into question the safety of the drivers working for these ridesharing apps, both with regard to their skills as drivers and their potentially criminal intentions, all leading to the question of whether it is safe to ride in an Uber or Lyft car alone.
The Safety Problems at Uber and Lyft
A study recently released by NYC’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) found that there five fatalities involving Uber cars in 2015 in NYC alone, and that there were 753 collisions involving cars registered with Uber.
In addition, there have been numerous reports of drivers for these ridesharing apps assaulting passengers, including sexual assault and kidnapping of passengers. In other cases, drivers posing as Uber drivers have targeted passengers for similar assaults. Uber itself, while indicating that it was sensitive to concerns about safety, has also taken action to avoid legal scrutiny, and one senior executive even suggested the company should hire investigators to target journalists critical of the company.
Staying Safe in an Uber or Lyft Ride
Despite the numerous, ongoing safety issues with these ridesharing apps, there are a number of steps you can take to improve safety when taking an Uber or Lyft alone:
- Wait inside for your car to come. Because safety issues have arisen with drivers pretending to be Uber/Lyft drivers, it’s best not to be standing outside looking around for your ride to come, which makes you prey for nefarious impostors.
- Confirm the identity of your driver before getting in. Your ridesharing app should send you all relevant information on your driver, including name and photo. Ask the driver to roll down the window so you can confirm this information before getting in.
- Send updates to a friend. The services now let you share your route with others through text, which gives them a GPS tracking of your ride along with information about the driver.
- Watch your alcohol intake. One of the great benefits of ridesharing apps is that they can reduce the level of drinking and driving on the roads, but if you become too inebriated, then you won’t be able to follow the safety tips described above and you put yourself at risk that a driver or anyone else can take advantage of you. If you’re too inebriated to take care of yourself, it may be best to have a friend come with you on the ride.
Legal Help For Those Injured in Taxi or Uber/Lyft Accidents
Whether you’ve been injured in a taxi accident or an Uber or Lyft accident, or a loved one has died in such an accident, help is available for your personal injury or wrongful death claim. With extensive experience in handling automobile personal injury cases, the Law Offices of Justin D. Brandel will fight to get you the maximum recovery for your losses. Call now for a free consultation.