Recently, a USC senior named Samantha Josephson was found dead by hunters in a rural area three days after disappearing while trying to get home from a night out with her friends. An arrest has been made in connection with the event — 25 year old Nathaniel Rowland, who was in possession of Samantha’s cellphone and had large amounts of her blood in his car. Samantha’s family and friends have urged college students to take extra precautions while dealing with ridesharing apps. Here are a few tips and tricks that have been shared:
- Keep your information straight
When getting into an Uber or Lyft, make sure to ask your driver, “who are you here for?” to eliminate any possibility of going in blindly. Other ways to check information include a liscense plate, driver’s name, profile picture, and if the driver has the lyft or uber app open on their phone and mounted on the dash. Be sure to double check as much of this information as possible to avoid any dangerous situations.
- Sit in the backseat
While in the passenger seat, your body is much easier for an assailant to access. You also have only one way out, which is less than you would have in a backseat (a door to each side is available). If you really do have to get out of a moving vehicle, make sure to try your best to land in a soft spot and at as low a speed as possible (while the driver is turning is the best way to do this). When jumping make sure to open the door all the way and jump at an angle, tucking your body and aiming to land on your back. Don’t forget to roll when you hit the ground.
- Check for childlocks
Make sure to check that your backseat doors aren’t childlocked. This is a huge red flag. Do not get into a car that has its doors childlocked. If you’re in a rush, ask your driver to turn off the childlock mechanism.
- Share your ride with your friends and family
Make sure that when you’re riding alone, someone always knows where you are. Both Uber and Lyft have systems in place where you can share your ride with a contact until you reach your destination. If someone has access to this information, they can alert the proper authorities if something goes wrong.
- Avoid riding alone whenever possible
Even 10 minute rides can turn nightmarish in an instant, especially for solo riders. It’s important to keep yourself safe in numbers. If you really cannot find someone willing to ride with you, a good fake out tactic is to talk on facetime with someone. An assailant would be less likely to target someone while being witnessed by someone outside of their control, so try and get a friend or family member on the phone before you get into the car.