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The following article appears in the Winter 2019 issue of Family Safety & Health and represents the type of information your employees and their families can learn about each quarter to help them stay safe while off the job.
By Alan Ferguson
Millions of people use ride-sharing services every day. But even though it’s common, you still need to think about your safety. Family Safety & Health has gathered tips from ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft, along with other experts, to provide you with a guide.
Know the age limit
You need to be at least 18 years old to ride unaccompanied in a ride-sharing vehicle.
Be aware of seating limits
A standard ride-sharing vehicle will have room and seat belts for up to four passengers – typically three in the back seat and one in the front. If you have more than five people in your group, some of you will have to call for a separate ride.
Don’t wait outside
Standing and waiting near the street, scanning traffic, and looking at your phone are clear signs you’re waiting for a ride. For your safety, Uber and Lyft recommend you stay inside until you receive an alert that your driver is arriving.
Check numbers and details
Before getting into the vehicle, look at the license plate, color and make of the vehicle, and photo of the driver – if available – and compare it with the information provided in the mobile app to make sure they match. Also, check your driver’s rating. Often, anything less than 4.6 out of 5 could be a sign of past issues. Cancel the ride and request another one.
Ask the right question
Don’t ask the driver, “Are you waiting for (your name)?” Instead, ask for the name of the rider being picked up or “Who are you here for?” And don’t hesitate to ask the driver for his or her name to ensure it matches the app.
Be a backseat rider
Traveling with a companion is best. But if you’re alone, always ride in the back seat – never in the front seat. This puts some space between you and the driver, and gives you a better chance to get out of the vehicle if any problems arise.
Test the child lock
Traveling with kids? Before getting into the back seat, check the inside of the door near the latch for the child lock. Some child locks will have labels that show which direction is the locked position. If it’s a simple lever, push it to the unlocked position – the “up” position on most vehicles. If you forget to check or want to double-check the child lock, test it by opening and closing the door again.
Bring a car seat
Ride-share drivers typically don’t carry car seats in their vehicles. If you’re riding with a child who requires a car seat, you’ll have to supply your own.
Buckle your seat belt every time, no matter how far you’re going – even if you’re riding in the back seat.
Trust your instincts
If something doesn’t seem right, don’t get into the vehicle. If anything seems odd during the ride, ask the driver to pull over and let you out. If your driver won’t comply, call 911. Uber says it has an emergency button in its app and, in some cities and counties, the 911 dispatcher will receive your information automatically.
Share trip details
Uber allows you to “share trip status” in its app to give your driver’s name, photo, license plate number and location to a family member or friend. Lyft has a similar function called “Send ETA” that transmits a text message with your location and route info. Another option: Stay on the phone with a friend or family member during your ride.
Use a navigation app to track your trip. If you need to get out of the vehicle, you’ll know where you are and be able to provide the police with information, if necessary.
Make a graceful exit
If your destination is along a street, exit the vehicle on the curbside, when possible. Look for oncoming vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians. If you have to get out through the door closest to the street, open it with the hand that’s farther away (called the “Dutch Reach”) so you can more easily look behind you to see any approaching traffic or bicycles.
Report any issues with the driver or the vehicle to the ride-sharing service during or immediately after your trip. By doing so, you can help keep other riders safe.
Note: Although the information and recommendations contained in this article have been compiled from sources believed to be reliable, the National Safety Council makes no guarantee as to, and assumes no responsibility for, the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances. This material may not be reproduced in any fashion without the National Safety Council’s permission.
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