Developments in mobile smartphone technology have aimed to make our lives and day-to-day tasks easier and more streamlined. A prime example is ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft. The concept is simple – you need to get somewhere, and you do not have a car, or parking near your destination is simply too expensive or nonexistent. Perhaps you do not live in a major city where taxi cabs are readily available or don’t want to pay a livery service to transport you to and from your destination.
The solution to this conundrum only requires a smartphone and credit card. You open Uber, Lyft or one of the many other ride-hailing apps and request a driver. Shortly thereafter, your driver arrives and you are on your way to your destination. No payment is physically exchanged once you reach your destination. Your credit card linked to the app is automatically charged depending on the length and duration of the trip. A recent addition to apps such as Uber and Lyft is the ability to carpool with other riders who also need to get somewhere close to your destination, which significantly cuts down on the average cost per rider.
While apps like Uber and Lyft have made day-to-day transportation very easy and convenient, there are a few important safety tips that riders should be aware of.
Confirm Your Driver
Once you request a ride in Uber or Lyft, you will be informed of the make and model of your driver’s car, as well as their name and license plate. Before entering the vehicle, you should confirm that all of these details match the information presented in the app. If anything seems suspicious or inconsistent, it’s best to cancel the ride and request a new one. In most areas, there are plenty of drivers available to get you to your destination.
Spread the Word
Another feature of Uber, Lyft and similar apps is the ability to allow friends and family to track your ride. This ensures that someone else is making sure you safely reach your destination. Others can follow your trip and will be alerted once the trip is complete. You can also simply send a family member or friend a timestamped text message before and after reaching your destination.
See Something? Say Something!
Just as if you are in a regular taxi cab, monitor your driver to ensure he or she is practicing safe driving behavior. The most important thing is to make sure the driver is keeping his or her eyes on the road, and is not distracted or preoccupied. If the driver is texting, fumbling around with the radio, or is exhibiting unsafe driving behavior in any way, politely ask the driver to focus on getting you to your destination.
Drivers are rated by users on their performance and if they fall below a particular rating, they are at risk to lose their job. If your driver objects to or ignores you request, make sure to report them to the app’s customer support. Most ride-hailing apps will issue you a refund in addition to handling the incident with the driver.
Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing apps are undoubtedly very convenient for those with no other means of transportation or those who wish to cut down on parking expenses. However, riders should be sure to understand and be aware of some of the factors that can negatively impact the ride experience and their own safety.