After the big “Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Happy New Years!” and badly mouthed “Auld Lang Syne“, it will be time to head home.
You will be doing the right thing by not drinking and driving and so services such as Uber or Lyft are literal lifesavers. However, predators and criminals will also be on the prowl looking for victims to take advantage of so here are 10 safety tips when using Uber or Lyft:
Tip 1: The Pickup
When you summon the driver, ensure that the pickup spot is in a busy public place. A well lit, busy parking lot with security cameras is ideal.
If the driver calls to ask you to meet them in a different area, ask them to rather come through to the original point.
Tip 2: Vehicle Verification
The app will confirm the driver’s vehicle make, model and color as well as the vehicle’s registration (number plate). When you see the vehicle pulling towards you, check that EVERYTHING matches – not just the registration.
When everything matches, then flag down the driver. NOT BEFORE.
Tip 3: The Driver
You will see in the app a picture of the driver and his or her name. Do not get in the car yet.
When you approach the driver, don’t say “Are you Bryan picking up Charlie.” A criminal needs to simply say “yes” to that question.
Instead, ask the driver for their name and who they are looking for.
Remember, legit Uber and Lyft drivers are vulnerable too. They want to make sure they have the right people in their vehicle, so this is NOT offensive or aggressive. It’s for everyone’s safety.
Tip 4: Who is inside the car
This is one night of the year when you want your own car. This is not a night for “pool” where other random strangers share a ride with you to save some money.
If there is someone else besides the driver in the car – don’t get in. Cancel the ride and put a note on the system that there was another person in the vehicle. Uber and Lyft should do the right thing and refund you the cancellation fee.
Tip 5: Confirm address
With the door still open, ask the driver to confirm the address he/ she is driving you to. This will appear on their Uber or Lyft app.
I have often told the driver that I want to double-check as my phone was glitching out when I entered the address.
Tip 6: Child Lock
When you get in the car, and before you drive off, try to open your door from within to ensure that it doesn’t have “child lock” on. Child lock is a feature that prevents a child from accidentally opening the car from inside so the door can only be opened from the outside. There is no reason for this to be on.
Tip 7: Follow on a map
You can use the Uber or Lyft app to follow the journey and ensure that the driver is sticking to the route. You can also use Google Maps. The apps are smart enough to divert around traffic and find the best route.
Don’t be afraid to tell the driver to stick to the route the app recommends.
Tip 8: Share your location
Both Uber and Lyft have safety features in the app to let someone keep an eye on your journey – use these features. You can also share your location from Google Maps and Instant Message services like WhatsApp.
Tip 9: Phone call
If you are heading to your home where there is no one there, make a phone call in the car to your “boyfriend/ girlfriend/ husband/ wife” and say: “Hey babe, on the way home now. Please make sure the dogs don’t make too much noise…” – feel free to get creative here.
Tip 10: Don’t fall asleep
Don’t fall asleep in the car. Full Stop. This is not the time to let your guard down when a stranger is literally driving you in their vehicle.
Open your phone and have your emergency contact number on the screen so with one push of the dial button it will call them.
If you feel uneasy for ANY reason. Ask the driver to pull over. You don’t need to justify it. Trust your gut and your instinct.