Taking an Uber might be convenient when there is no access to a car but traveling in one could be a nerve-racking or even dangerous experience for college students.
Although Uber assures it is a safe service for customers, there have been more than 120 reports of sexual assault and abuse by Uber drivers from its users in the last four years.
Sachin Kansal, Uber’s director of safety products, said in a press release Uber has recently implemented more safety precautions, including a new “panic button,” which alerts authorities immediately when used through the app.
“Every second counts in an emergency,” Kansal said. “We want to make sure our users get help quickly with accurate information if faced with an emergency situation.”
Despite Uber requiring background checks before hiring drivers, reports of kidnappings, beatings and sexual assault have still been reported across the country, especially in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Because some California Baptist University students do not have their own cars on campus, Uber has become a popular and convenient way to get somewhere off-campus when he or she cannot catch a ride with a friend.
Gavin Duran, freshman theater major, said he has doubted his safety before while riding in an Uber.
“I have only used Ubers in groups and even though we have been safe, it is always somewhat intimidating to get into a car with a stranger,” Duran said. “You don’t know what kind of people they are or even how safe of a driver they are.”
Eleasha Go , junior anthropology and business administration double major, also said she has concerns from her Uber experiences.
“I do not feel safe in an Uber alone, especially with all the backlash they have been getting because of the way drivers (can) act,” Go said. “I am always anx- ious when I have a male driver because you never know if he’ll be inappropriate toward me or the other people I’m riding with in the car.”
Because of backlash and worry from customers, Uber asked for advice from federal law enforcement on how to inform its customers about safety precautions they can take.
The company’s website advises customers to share trip
details with a friend so they are able to see the car’s location on a live feed. This can be done by tapping “share status” within the app during the ride, which shares your driver’s name, profile picture, license plate number, and current location with a friend or family member, even if they do not have the app.
Uber also suggests sitting in the backseat, instead of next to the driver. Additionally, do not share personal phone numbers with the driver.
Uber also advises users to triple check the car and driver’s ID as extra precautions to make sure it matches the car and driver picture on the app.
Although Uber has many safety precautions and is convenient for users, students should be cautious whenever they use the service and aim to have a few others ride with them on their ride.