Ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft have become extremely successful in the past few years with the convenience of requesting a driver from any location through apps on smartphones. Designated drivers are no longer a hassle for millennials to find, as long as they have the Uber or Lyft app.
While the intention to create ride sharing services is good, it has become common that some drivers aren’t the safest to ride with. Sean Williams, a New York based Uber driver, is an example of a driver with different intentions to take his passenger on a different route.
The 32-year-old Brooklyn native was charged for kidnapping and threatening to sexually assault a 15-year-old girl, ubering home from a Sweet 16 birthday party in Long Island on July 12th. Williams cancelled the girl’s route and began to drive in a different direction. The driver tried convincing the girl to go drinking with him so that he could take her to his Brooklyn home where he wanted to sexually assault her. The victim kept refusing and convinced him to pull over at a McDonald’s where she went into the bathroom and called the police.
Many families and people rely on Uber and Lyft to get them and their loved ones home safely. Often times, riders will take ride sharing services after a night out, when a person might be intoxicated, therefore being more vulnerable. While it’s a safe drive and a safe ride physically, there’s the constant worry, particularly for young girls and women, that their driver will cancel their route and begin driving elsewhere to kidnap them.
On Twitter, young women are constantly tweeting and discussing their scary experiences with Uber and Lyft drivers. It has almost become normal to experience or know someone who has experienced a suspicious Uber driver. Many of these rides can start innocently, but can lead to a dangerous situation if the driver decides to take a different route. The point of these services is to get people to and from places safely, but what is the point if the drivers are sexual predators seeking young women?
An Uber spokesperson stated that Williams’ Uber profile was immediately removed from the app and cut off his access to the app completely. While this might be a solution after the fact, a ride sharing service will not know who is a predator or not, unless they have a criminal record, which would be seen in a background check. Just because someone does not have a record does not mean that they aren’t capable of hurting someone.
It is common that people hop into what they assume is their ride without confirming with the driver who they are there for. The number one rule is to ask the driver who they are picking up for..
Ride sharing services can be an effective way to get to different locations for a small amount of money. However, it is important to let others know where you are going, check you are in the right car, and be aware of your surroundings.