I’ve only ridden in an Uber car once, and my experience wasn’t too bad. I was at a dinner in Atlanta, Georgia with a security manufacturer, and I hitched a ride with a fellow magazine editor back to the hotel that we were staying at for the duration of the security event. A nice, black, freshly-washed-and-waxed Chrysler 300 pulled up; a young man, probably in his late 20s, was driving.
Now, as a Texan, and being in what is considered the “Deep South,” I expected the driver to get out and open the door for us, since we’re both ladies. But, no, we opened the car door ourselves, got in and buckled up as the driver grunted a mumbled “hello,” and we were off.
The ride itself was pretty smooth. We didn’t get lost, nor did we feel that our safety was compromised. Conversation between us and the driver left a lot to be desired; but, overall, the experience was good and it served its purpose.
In the news recently, story after story has been coming out about situations in which Uber passengers found themselves in undesirable situations, some even dangerous, even though drivers must submit to background checks to become Uber “chauffeurs.”
Los Angeles and San Francisco district attorneys announced that they are filing suit against Uber. They claim that Uber misleads users by saying it does “an industry-leading, background-check process.” The truth is that Uber doesn’t even fingerprint their drivers. Because of this, Uber’s criminal checks are “worthless,” according to George Gascon, San Francisco district attorney. Gascon claims that this statement gives consumers a false sense of security when getting into a stranger’s car.
“It was incredibly easy to be a driver,” said Rachael Speakman, an Uber driver in Massachusetts. “All you need is a car 2004 or newer with four doors. You do have to submit a background check, send a photo of your license, registration and proof of insurance, but I was able to do it all from my iPhone. Within a week, they sent me an IPhone loaded with Uber driver software to use.”
But, isn’t riding in an Uber car the same as hailing a taxi? Most of the time, both types of drivers are complete strangers and you get into their vehicles anyway. You are in essence, accepting a ride from a complete stranger…the things we teach our kids not to do.
Here are some things to consider when riding in an Uber car or a traditional taxi:
- If something doesn’t feel right, pay attention to your gut or that little voice inside your head for warning signs.
- If you need to get out of a ride share situation, come up with a practical excuse. For example, tell the driver you feel sick and need to get out.
- NEVER get into a car that you didn’t order from Uber.
- Enable location tracking on your smartphone so others know where you are.
- Travel with others whenever possible; there’s power in numbers.