How to stay safe while riding with Uber

After a recent death, News 10 wanted to provide advice from local drivers and riders on how to stay safe while riding with Uber.

Posted: Apr 2, 2019 6:43 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- A mistaken Uber ride took a turn for the worst for 21-year-old Samantha Josephson.

She got into the wrong Uber after a late night of partying and never returned home.

Safety Tips from Uber

1. Plan ahead. Before you request a ride, think about where you're headed and review the safety features in the app so you know how to use them.
2. Request your ride inside. Avoid spending unnecessary time outside alone with your phone in your hand. Instead, wait indoors until the app shows your driver has arrived.
3. Get in the right car. Before you get in the car, check that license plate, driver photo, and driver name all match what's listed in the app. Uber rides can only be requested through the app, so never get in a car with a driver who claims to be with Uber and offers a ride.
4. Be a backseat rider. If you're riding alone, sit in the backseat. This ensures you can safely exit on either side of the vehicle to avoid moving traffic, and it gives you and your driver some personal space.
5. Buckle up. The Centers for Disease Control reports that seatbelt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries related to car accidents.
6. Share your trip details with a friend. While en route, tap "Share status" in the app to share your driver's name, photo, license plate, and location with a friend or family member. They can track your trip and see your ETA without downloading the Uber app.
7. Protect your personal information. There's no need to share your phone number or other contact information with your driver. If a rider and driver need to contact each other, the Uber app automatically anonymizes both phone numbers to protect everyone's privacy.
8. Follow your intuition. Trust your instincts and use your best judgement when riding with Uber. And if you ever feel you're in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.
9. Be kind and respectful. As outlined in our community guidelines, please respect your driver and his or her car.
10. Give feedback on your trip. Your feedback helps us improve the Uber experience for everyone. Our 24/7 global support team reviews feedback and will follow up with appropriate action on any reports of conduct that violate our community guidelines.

News 10 spoke with local Uber drivers and riders on the incident.

For some riders, like John Garcia, it's all about accessibility.

"Ubers are like really convenient especially in like a busy city if you don't want to take a taxi you just call up on your phone and they come right to you," said Garcia.

He's never had a bad experience with the riding service.

"I've never had any concerns, normally they have their name on the profile so I check to see if that's them and they see if I'm who I am and I get in the car," said Garcia.

While it has always been a smooth ride for John, that hasn't been the case for Albert Gilmore and his family.

"My mom was out partying with her girlfriends and she accidentally left her cell phone in the uber," said Gilmore.

The family called the company to track down the phone, which introduced them to a rather shocking situation.

"Apparently that wasn't an Uber car at all... he was still using the program but he wasn't licensed with Uber," said Gilmore.

The imposter Uber driver demanded ransom money from the family in return for the phone.

"He said well since it's a $150 dollar phone if you give us $200 dollars we'll give it back to you," Gilmore told us.

Luckily, the Gilmore family called the police and let the authorities handle it, to which officers retrieved the phone.. and suspended the former Uber's license. 

He said the situation stuck with the family and now they prefer to ride with friends.

"I don't want to hop in a vehicle with someone I don't know and if the company doesn't know them as well that makes that ten times more dishonest and scary to drive with," Gilmore said.

When riding with ride-sharing companies, it's important to remember safety at all times.

Uber driver, Travis Eckert, told News 10 drivers are not random and if you feel your safety is at risk it's important to express that to the driver.

"They do a background check also they'll run your plates. They just kinda make sure that you have your own car registration, you have insurance and then you're certified. Just don't be afraid to speak up if you're uncomfortable with the driver. Seriously don't be afraid to speak up, I think that's the most important thing," said Eckert.

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