Uber has for the first time released data on the number of passengers and drivers alleging they've been sexually assaulted, raising new concerns over the safety of the popular ride-hailing service.
According to Uber's safety report, there were more than 3,000 allegations of sexual assault last year. So how do you stay safe on Uber and Lyft?
Here are some tips:
Wait indoors for your ride: Avoid spending unnecessary time outside alone with your phone in your hand. Instead, wait indoors until the app shows your driver has arrived.
Pay attention to the vehicle: Check out the make and model of the car that pulls up and compare the license plate number to the one listed on the app. Also, look at the driver photo and name. Make sure it matches what’s listed in the app.
Look for the beacon: Uber has begun rolling out a glowing sign it calls a "beacon" in some markets. The device glows in a color the would-be passenger selects, so they’ll know exactly which vehicle is the one they ordered.
Still, dashboard LED lights that say "Uber" or "Lyft" can be misleading. Anyone – not just authorized drivers – can buy them on Amazon for less than $20, whether they're an authorized driver or not.
Exercise caution: Uber rides can only be requested through the app, so never get in a car with a driver who claims to be with Uber and offers a ride. Ask for the driver "who are you here to pick up?" and to identify you by name and to name your destination. Make sure the make, model and license plate of the vehicle match what’s in the app. Make sure the driver is the one in the profile photo.
Sit in the backseat: If you’re riding alone, this ensures you can safely exit on either side of the vehicle to avoid moving traffic, and it gives you and your driver some personal space.
If you can, check to see if the child lock is on before you close the car door. The mechanism is often located on the edge of the rear doors. If it's left on, you have to wait for the driver to let you out of the vehicle.
Wear a seat belt: The Centers for Disease Control reports that seatbelt use is the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries related to car accidents.
Let a friend know: While en route, tap “Share status” in the app to share your driver’s name, photo, license plate, and location with a friend or family member. They can track your trip and see your ETA without downloading the Uber app.
Travel together: There is strength in numbers. You can share live updates from the Lyft and Uber apps with friends. You can also share trips with other riders.
Don't share too much info: There’s no need to share your phone number or other contact information with your driver. If a rider and driver need to contact each other, the Uber app automatically anonymizes both phone numbers to protect everyone’s privacy.
Trust your instincts: Use your best judgment when riding with Uber. And if you ever feel you’re in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately. You can do that right within the mobile app, using the emergency button.
Rate your driver and give feedback: Your feedback helps make the experience better for everyone. There's a 24/7 global support team that reviews feedback and will follow up with appropriate action on any reports of conduct that violate our community guidelines.