The idea of ordering a car ride with a complete stranger went from a weary application to a nationwide phenomenon.
Uber was founded in 2009 as a transportation network company that began in San Francisco. To get a ride, all one has to do is download the Uber application onto your phone, enter your destination, and then you’re given a price with your driver’s detail and location. It seems simple enough.
The rising concern seems to come from the horror stories of Uber experiences gone wrong.
Applications like Uber and Lyft tend to be heavily used by college students, who turn to this application to have an alternate ride when intoxicated.
According to Uber’s Ride With Confidence Campaign, “the Uber experience was built with safety in mind. Through incident prevention tools, insurance coverage, and technology that keeps you connected, we’re dedicated to helping you move safely and focus on what matters most.”
Junior Julia Harsch relies on Uber to put not only her own safety first, but the safety of others as well. She feels responsible knowing she’s making the right decision, but prepares herself each time she steps into a ride, due to the concern that she never really knows who the person behind the wheel is, and all of a sudden she’s locked in the car with them.
Harsch shared her scariest Uber experience in San Francisco on her way to a concert. She took an Uber alone and the man driving her “seemed nice but started asking personal questions. [The questions] started from how the night was to how old I was.” When she shared her age, he smiled back through the rear view mirror and said “So you’re legal” to her.
Harsch continued with stating, “There were times throughout the ride where I could see him adjusting his mirror to look at my body. I was worried for my safety and instantly sent my friends my location and the drivers information.” Harsch warns that Uber should do stricter screenings when hiring drivers.
According to Uber’s website, they require drivers to go through a background check that includes a Motor Vehicle Record Review as well as a criminal background check. Subject to state and local law, some serious convictions such as murder, sexual assault, and terrorism related offenses will result in disqualification.
Although this prescreening does happen before a driver is allowed to work for the company, ill intentions are still a large concern for riders.
Amanda Endersby, a Junior, shared her recent ride experience. She said her fear that the Uber driver application is such an easy process, that it’s very easy to allow someone with those bad intentions to pick up riders that aren’t in their clearest mindset.
When speaking about her trip the weekend of Oct. 27, Endersby said, “The guy asked how old we were when we got in and said he couldn’t drive minors. Then he tried to take us on to the freeway to Eureka so we started yelling at him to turn around and take us home.” Endersby ends by stating “I just think that Uber can be so unsafe, but it’s the only option to get home, so it’s kind of a double edged sword.”
If one would hope to keep safe in an Uber or Lyft, there are applications that can be used for protection throughout your ride experience.
SafeTrek is a single button application that acts as a trigger or silent alarm when you feel you are in danger. With the release of the single button, police will rush to your location.
In October, Uber released its new in-app Safety ToolKit with the intention of adding an extra layer of security. This would allow riders to anonymize their pickup and drop-off locations so drivers couldn’t keep trip information.
It allows you to put in five emergency contacts into the application, and 911 is reached in the click of a button. This was all done in effort to make their platform safer according to cnet.com. The Safety ToolKit can be found by tapping the shield icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the application.