Ride Safe With Ride Share

College student Samantha Josephson thought she was getting into the Uber ride she requested from her cellphone app in the early hours of this past Friday, March 29th. According to USA Today, video footage does not suggest that the 21-year-old traveling separate from her friends had any suspicions as she entered a parked car outside of the club she was at. The car she entered was not affiliated with Uber, however, and this mistake tragically cost Josephson her life. The driver of this vehicle has been arrested after her body was found later Friday afternoon. Police are treating the case as a homicide, although they have not yet given the public many details about the suspect's motivations. 

This horrific incident is a painful reminder that young adults should always take steps to ensure their personal safety, especially when using Uber and similar services. College students should not assume that they can let their guard down if they opt to use a rideshare company instead of taking public transportation. Samantha Josephson's death demonstrates that even with policies to protect riders' safety, there are still opportunities for danger to arise. 

 

Tips for Riding Safely

Double Check Details 

Before entering a vehicle, make sure the make and model match the information on the driver's profile. To confirm their identity, ask them to roll down the window and introduce themselves without revealing your name or the name of the driver you are expecting. Some ride share services may also provide a driver photo or license plate number. If you have that information right at your fingertips, take the extra moment to give yourself peace of mind and avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

Stay Attentive

Confirm your destination with the driver at the start of your trip and keep an eye on their GPS. Try to avoid just staring at your phone screen for the entire ride and definitely avoid falling asleep in the stranger's car. These small steps will demonstrate to your driver that you are not going to be easily taken advantage of. 

Share Location with Friends/Family

iPhone users have the option to use the Find Friends app built into iOS with select contacts. The settings allow you to share your location indefinitely or for a specific time period. If you are planning on going out with a group of friends, consider sharing your location with those people in case you get separated during the night. You could also set your location to always be shared with one or two people you are very close to, so that someone you trust and speak to often will be able to see where you are if there is cause for concern. 

Uber itself has an option within the app to share trip statuses with Trusted Contacts. This is perfect for anyone with worried parents or an anxious roommate.

Report Concerns

To help promote the safety of other riders, avoid dismissing any red flags you may notice on a ride. Uber has a 2-way rating system, so both drivers and riders can submit complaints. If a driver makes a comment or does something that makes you uncomfortable, you should consider reporting it so that they are held accountable. Instead of thinking to yourself, "Oh it wasn't that big of a deal," remind yourself, "If this happened to me, it may have or will happen to someone else."

In Case of Emergency

Within the Uber app, riders can tap the Emergency Assistance button for their exact current location to share with a 911 dispatcher. According to their website, in some states tapping this button will automatically share trip details with emergency services.

If you regularly use Uber or similar services, there are other apps worth downloading. bSafe is a free app with a personal alarm that will send out your location and begin recording video and audio when activated. Watch Over Me has similar features but can be activated by simply shaking your phone, even when it is locked, for a quicker and more discreet signal.