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Untold Stories of Uber and How to Stay Safe

As college students, we use Uber and other taxi style driving services all the time. When you don’t have a car, it’s the easiest way to go from place to place. When you’re drinking, you are guaranteed a safe ride home, or so we think.

After hearing multiple “trauma stories” from friends and classmates about past Uber rides, I have come to the conclusion that Uber is not the safest way to get from place to place, especially when you are a single rider and when you are intoxicated. I interviewed multiple Southern Methodist University women to hear about their experiences with Uber. Their responses are featured below, along with some alternatives and safety measures regarding Uber.

 

Image via CNET

 

Mel*

  1. How often do you take Uber? I probably take Uber 4/7 days of the week because I don’t have a car on campus.
  2. What time of day do you use Uber? I take Uber any time of the day. The most unusual experiences I have had have been between 8 am-5 pm when most people are at work.
  3. Do you tend to Uber in a group or alone? I typically Uber by myself. When I do Uber with others it is when I am going out with friends at night.
  4. What has been a bad experience you’ve had with Uber? The worst experience I had with an Uber driver was when I was coming home from a party with my friends around midnight. We had to cross the street to meet this Uber at a Marriott. When the five of us got in the car the Uber driver asked us if we had a cigarette and giggled with a strange lady who was in the passenger seat (she was already in the car when we got there). It took us about five minutes to realize that this man was not intending to take us to our destination. We suspected that he was high and had met this lady that night and was “Ubering” people around as some sort of joke. We ran out of the car, back into the Marriott and waited 15 minutes for to meet another Uber to take us home. In retrospect I was legitimately concerned about what the outcome of that night would have been if we had allowed this man to drive the car with us in it.
  5. What alternative to Uber would you recommend? I would recommend Lyft to others. (I haven’t had as many unusual experiences with Lyft because I don’t use it nearly as frequently as I use Uber). However, I would use it with caution and would recommend riding with others, especially during odd hours of the day. I would definitely appreciate it if Uber and Lyft had more requirements for people to be drivers.

 

Image via CNN Money

 

Jackie*

  1. How often do you take Uber? I probably used Uber one day a week.
  2. What time of day do you use Uber? I take Uber at night when I am going out, so that I do not drink and drive.
  3. Do you tend to Uber in a group or alone? I have always been advised to Uber in a group, but I have also had to Uber alone during the day.
  4. What has been a bad experience you’ve had with Uber? I have taken an Uber in Los Angeles, where the driver did not speak a single word of English, and he started driving away when my sister was still getting in the car, nearly running over her foot. He also took us to our destination on a route that was not what the app was saying, which made us think he was taking us somewhere wrong. The way he went also ended up taking twice as long, which made us have to pay more.
  5. What alternative to Uber would you recommend? If I have to go somewhere alone, I have started using Lyft. I have had a great experience each time, and I have never felt threatened or in danger. I have also asked some of the drivers why they started driving for Lyft, and they have all said that they chose Lyft because the company treats them well, and because the company does thorough background checks, which means that they will have a more positive image to customers, since there are less issues than Uber.

 

Image via Uber

 

Amy*

  1. How often do you take Uber? I usually take Uber around 4 days a week. I use it mostly Friday-Sunday. Occasionally I use it to go to the store or the doctor during the week days. 
  2. What time of day do you use Uber? I usually use Uber at night time or afternoon. Fridays and Saturdays I am usually Ubering at night. On Sundays or a week day I go in the afternoon. 
  3. Do you tend to Uber in a group or alone? Usually I Uber with my friends/family but there are times I Uber alone. It’s usually when I’m visiting family in the area or going to the doctors office. I also Uber alone if I for some reason could not go with the rest of my friends and have to meet them later. 
  4. What has been a bad experience you’ve had with Uber? My worst experience was when I was Ubering to restaurant to meet the rest of my family. I was in a boot at the time for a sprained ankle.  I saw the Uber, checked that the plates matched and the driver and then the driver opened the front door me. I usually don’t sit in the front seat but I thought he was just trying to be polite and accommodating for my boot. As soon as I was in the car I shared the status with my mom because I was meeting her. Then the driver was trying to make conversation. Then conversation started getting uncomfortable. He kept saying things like “You’re so beautiful” or “If I had a girlfriend like you I would just have sex with her all day.” I was clearly uncomfortable and not very responsive to his questions. He had a Middle Eastern accent and I couldn’t really understand some of what he was saying but he started to ask me about my hair. I thought he was asking me if my hair color was natural and I responded “Yes. My hair color is natural.” Next thing I know he started petting my hair and said “Wow it is so soft.” We were on the freeway so I couldn’t ask him to pull over so I just tried to politely brush his hand away. Instead he started petting my shoulder and I had to forcefully push it off. He didn’t think anything was wrong and he just kept saying “You’re so beautiful. Thank you, thank you! I appreciate you.” Luckily, we are approaching my destination and I got out of the car. I immediately reported the incident to Uber. They called me within minutes saying his account was temporarily shut down and that they were going to further investigate. I gave them my statement but I was not allowed to know the end result of the investigation. My advice is to always to sit in the back, even if the driver seems nice. Also share your ride status and call a friend or family on the phone if you feel uncomfortable. 
  5. What alternative to Uber would you recommend? I really like Lyft. I used it a few times so I had a 5 star rating and they gave me discounts on rides. Also they have a promo that gives you $50 in ride credit for people who sign up. 

Many women have suggested using Lyft as an alternative. Uber does not require the background check to be completed before a driver can begin their job. Lyft on the other hand, has a more extensive background check process, and drivers cannot begin work until their background checks have been completed. If you have to Uber by yourself, share your location with the people you’re meeting up with. They can track your location and make sure you are getting to your destination safely. Lastly, always sit in the backseat. If you do end up with a driver that seems off, either get out and order another Uber, or sit in the back so that you are as far from them as possible, which will prevent them from physically touching you or making gestures towards you that could make you feel uncomfortable.

*name has been changed

Karna is a Junior at Southern Methodist University studying Public Relations, Advertising, and English. She is the Social Media Director for Her Campus SMU, as well as a member of STUMO and Alpha Chi Omega. She is from Orange County, California and loves going to the beach and spending time with her younger sisters when visiting home. When she is not studying, Karna is usually exploring Dallas, listening to country music, or updating her blog, Simply Karna.
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