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Is Uber Or Lyft Safer? Risks & Safety Features Compared

People who love the convenience of ridesharing apps wonder: is Uber or Lyft safer?  Determining which is safer between Uber or Lyft is a common concern for rideshare users; this post examines their safety protocols and records to provide a clear answer.

Key Takeaways

  • Uber reported nearly 6,000 sexual assaults over two years, while Lyft reported over 4,000 in three years, making safety a notable concern.
  • Assaults usually involve the driver as the victim, with Uber and Lyft reporting deaths from altercations, highlighting rising safety challenges.
  • Both services run background checks on drivers and offer safety features in their apps, such as real-time ride tracking and emergency assistance.
  • The safety of Uber or Lyft can vary by city, but both offer features to help ensure rider safety, with the option to choose rides carefully for added security.

How Safe Are Uber and Lyft?

Uber and Lyft, while similar in their service offerings, show notable differences in safety as per crime statistics and the severity of offenses reported.

Our research, drawing from Los Angeles Police Department data beginning in 2016, revealed a significant number of reported offenses connected to rideshare services. Among these, over 100 were sexual offenses, with females comprising 90% of the victims.

Additionally, half of these reported crimes were classified as Part 1 crimes, which include severe criminal acts such as murder, robbery, and arson.

Below, we’ll break down these safety considerations in-depth, as well as discuss what the two companies are doing about them.

Common Issues with Rideshare Services

Though riders reported many different crimes to the LAPD and police in other cities, two main types of crimes are most likely to happen: sexual and physical assaults.

Sexual Assaults

Uber reported almost 6,000 reports of sexual assault during 2017 and 2018.

Uber drivers completed more than two billion trips in those two years, so the assaults are a small fraction of the total.

But safety is always a concern, and one sexual assault is too many.

Lyft reported over 4,000 counts of sexual assault between 2017 and 2019.

The company states that more than 99% of rides given during that time were completed without any incident.

Physical Assaults

Physical assaults during rides mainly occur with the driver as the victim.

Other altercations happen between passengers.

Lyft reported that ten people died from physical altercations during rides, while Uber reported 19 deaths.

And it seems to be escalating, with the Uber Eats driver killed in D.C. recently.

Who Is Most at Risk?

Of the 6,000 sexual assaults reported to Uber, 92% of the victims were riders, and 89% were women.

Lyft’s reports skewed differently, with only 52% of sexual assaults reported by riders.

Lyft doesn’t break reports down by gender but does specify exactly what the sexual assault consisted of.

When Is the Highest Risk Time to Take a Ride?

As long as you take safety precautions, you can take a ride at any time with low risks.

Always make sure you’re aware of your surroundings.

It can be harder to see clearly at night or if you’ve been drinking, but you can ensure the driver and car match what’s on your app before you get in.

Areas of Safety

Both Uber and Lyft run background checks on potential drivers before they clear them to work through the app.

1. Driver Vetting

Both companies run background checks before someone can drive for the app.

They also have a baseline for acceptable vehicles and conduct inspections.

Uber Driver Vetting

Uber vets their drivers with a background check before accepting rides through the app.

They run background checks every year you work with them, and some cities run them even more often.

Background Check:

Run by Checkr, a third-party company, background checks use your Social Security Number and Driver’s License to pull your driving report and criminal record.

State laws can influence what factors prevent drivers from working with Uber, but sexual assault, murder, and other serious convictions will disqualify you.

At a bare minimum, you must have one year of driving experience if you’re over 25 and three years if you’re younger than that.

Having several driving violations will most likely flag your account, even if they’re not serious offenses.

Vehicle Requirements:

Uber car requirements ensure that every vehicle has four doors and seat belts for four or more passengers.

The car can’t be more than 15 years old, and it can’t be a rental.

A vehicle that has experienced drastic damage won’t pass this stage.

Drivers must have insurance for their car, and their name has to be on the insurance policy.

Vehicle Inspection:

Before driving for Uber, you have to take your car to a repair shop to have a professional inspect it.

The inspection is an annual requirement to ensure your vehicle is running correctly.

The mechanic checks the car’s inner workings, but you also have to ensure it’s clean and cosmetically appealing.

Lyft Driver Vetting

Like Uber, Lyft conducts background checks before anyone can drive for the app.

They also claim to run checks periodically but don’t require it annually as Uber does.

Background Check:

Lyft also uses Checkr, a third-party company, to run background checks.

The company won’t hire registered sex offenders or drivers with other sexual offenses on their criminal record.

Violent crimes, DUIs, and thefts within the past seven years also flag potential drivers’ accounts.

Applicants’ driving records can’t have more than four moving violations in a three-year period.

Significant offenses like having a suspended license, reckless driving, or a hit-and-run also disqualify drivers.

Vehicle Requirements: 

Lyft car requirements mean that vehicles must have four doors and at least five working seatbelts, including the driver’s seat.

The car’s age depends on the city and state-specific guidelines, but none can be older than a 2002 model.

Vehicle Inspection:

Vehicle inspections for Lyft cover the same points as Uber inspections.

You need to have top-notch brakes, tires, lights, and mirrors.

Cosmetics are also important, so no dents are bigger than a baseball.

Zero Tolerance Policies

Rideshare apps have zero-tolerance policies in place to keep everyone safe.

If a rider reports a driver as under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the driver gets deactivated.

Uber Zero Tolerance Policy

Uber’s zero-tolerance policy applies to drivers across all platforms, whether the cargo is a rider or a food delivery.

If anyone reports an impaired driver, the person is at risk of having their account deactivated.

Passengers can call 911 as soon as they suspect their driver and then report them via the Uber app or the customer complaints email.

Lyft Zero Tolerance Policy

Lyft’s zero-tolerance policy tells riders to call 911 or the police if they think their driver is under the influence.

They also report the violation to Lyft, either in real-time or at a later date.

A “Call Me” button on the app connects you to the critical response team, who’s available 24/7.

2. Safety Features

By adding safety features to their platforms, Uber and Lyft are constantly working to keep riders safe.

Knowing everything available to you will help you feel secure before even booking a ride.

vector graphic showing two people getting into a lyft car and one asking the other "is lyft safe?"

Uber Safety Features

Uber has safety features for riders, including informing trusted contacts on your whereabouts.

Your family or best friend can follow your trip in real-time to ensure you make it to your destination.

The app shares the driver’s name, photo, and car information with passengers so you know you’ve got the right car.

Uber monitors messages sent through the app so they can detect harassment.

That’s the only method of communication, too—your driver will never see your phone number.

If something feels off with your driver, you can call the police through the app, so they have your location through the Uber GPS.

Lyft Safety Features

Lyft also has safety features that passengers can rely on to add a margin of safety to their ride.

The app shows passengers who will pick them up: a selfie, the driver’s name, the car model, and the license plate number.

This information prevents riders from getting into the wrong car.

Like Uber, you can share your ride details with a contact.

If you feel unsafe at any point during your ride, you can get emergency help through the app.

ADT accesses your GPS and sends that information to 911 so they can reach you.

If your destination changes or the driver veers off-course, the app asks if this is on purpose or if you need help.

3. Dedicated Safety Phone Number

To ensure your safety on commutes, you want to know how to contact Uber, Lyft, and the authorities.

Having this information available empowers you to stay safe during your ride.

a vector graphic of a man holding a phone and calling lyft customer service at their lyft phone number

Uber Safety Phone Number

Uber has a Critical Safety Response number: 800-285-6172.

You can also connect to 911 through the app.

Uber has an Emergency Button that contacts the authorities and shares the GPS of your ride.

Lyft Safety Phone Number

You don’t need a phone number to contact Lyft for safety issues.

For emergencies, you can call 911 or request help through the app.

Lyft partnered with ADT to allow riders to discreetly call for help and share their location.

Suggested Reads

Learn more about the Lyft phone number or the Uber phone number and how they work for customers.

4. Lawsuits Against the Companies

If you experience an assault during a ride, you can file a personal injury suit against the driver.

Though the company hires the drivers, you most likely have to sue the individual instead of the company.

Lawsuits Against Uber

Several people brought lawsuits against Uber, alleging the company knew about the assaults but didn’t do anything to protect passengers.

Lawsuits Against Lyft

Women have filed lawsuits against Lyft after being sexually assaulted during a ride.

The company has insurance against these claims, so it’s usually best to directly sue the person who committed the crime.

5. COVID-19 Safety

During the lockdown, people stayed home and didn’t need to use ridesharing services much.

But as travel and commuting ramped back up, Uber and Lyft put precautions in place to protect drivers and riders from Coronavirus.

Is Uber Safe During the Coronavirus?

Yes, Uber is safe to use during Coronavirus.

They make masks mandatory and ask drivers to put the windows down if the weather allows it.

They’ve also restricted car capacity to have more space for each passenger.

Is Lyft Safe During the Coronavirus?

Lyft is safe to use during Coronavirus.

They require face masks and ask that you not book a ride if you have any symptoms of Covid-19.

Both passengers and drivers can report someone not wearing a mask, and Lyft requires you to prove via selfie that you’re wearing a mask before you can use the app again.

They promote airflow with windows down when appropriate and have drivers disinfect shared surfaces in the car.

5. Safety for Female Passengers

Many female passengers are hesitant to book rides with Lyft and Uber.

There’s no guarantee on who your driver will be.

Though both companies vet their drivers, you might feel uncomfortable with a stranger.

vector graphic showing a woman using a lyft for business ride to get around a dense urban city

Female Passenger Safety with Uber

After so many reports of sexual assault, Uber released particular guidelines for women’s safety.

They offer 24/7 support from a team trained to handle sensitive issues like sexual harassment.

Women can also discreetly call for help within the app.

Is Uber Safe for Female Passengers?

Yes, Uber is safe for female passengers. It’s essential to stay aware of your surroundings.

Make sure your driver and car match what’s in the app.

Follow your progress during the drive to ensure the driver takes you to your destination.

Can You Request a Female Uber Driver?

No, you can’t request your driver at all through Uber.

However, you can book a ride, see your driver, and cancel if you feel uncomfortable.

Female Passenger Safety with Lyft

Lyft works to protect all passengers by offering complete transparency.

You can see your driver’s name, picture, and car details.

Plus, you can share your ride with a contact or send a link to others.

If the car stops for an extended period, a message pops up through the app to ensure you’re okay.

Is Lyft Safe for Female Passengers?

Yes, a Lyft ride is just as safe as Uber or other taxi services.

As long as you pay attention to your surroundings and your journey, you should be fine.

If you feel uncomfortable, you can stop the ride at any time or call emergency services through the app.

Can You Request a Female Lyft Driver?

No, you can’t request a female driver on the Lyft app.

Depending on the type of ride you choose, you’re most likely just going to get the driver that’s closest to your pickup location.

The app does allow you to cancel a ride if you don’t feel comfortable with the driver.

Alternative: Woman to Woman Driving Service

Though you can’t specifically request a female driver through Uber or Lyft, you can use a service that only hires female drivers.

ChaufHer and DriveHer are examples of companies that help you feel safe while supporting women workers.

Final Verdict: Is Uber or Lyft Safer?

The answer to this question can vary according to your city.

In big cities like New York and San Francisco, Uber seems safer.

The company is a bigger name, making them more established.

They were the first to release records about assaults and now provide complete transparency.

Uber often hires commercial drivers for luxury rides, giving these options even more safeguards.

To feel the most in control of your rides, you can download both apps and look for drivers near you.

Uber and Lyft allow you to cancel one driver and search for another, you have a wider pool if you use both apps.

Safety Tips for Riders

There are safety tips that help all riders using these platforms.

Following these guidelines gives you some insight into how you can feel secure when booking and commuting through rideshare apps.

1. Let Somebody You Trust Know You’re Requesting a Rideshare

When you tell other people that you’re booking a ride, they’ll have an idea of your transit time and can check in on you to make sure you arrive safely.

Both Uber and Lyft have stepped up their security and now allow you to share your location through the app.

You can connect your contacts and let people see the progression of your trip.

You can also request a link and send it to others.

Your trusted contacts can see where you are in real-time.

2. Request the Ride Inside

It’s convenient to request a ride from anywhere.

But to stay safe, you should wait inside.

You’ll be around other people instead of standing outside with your phone in your hand, watching for a car’s arrival.

The apps show when your rideshare driver is approaching and what car they’re in.

You can verify the information before you exit the building and confidently walk to the vehicle.

Always double-check before you get in.

3. Only Communicate With the Driver Using the Rideshare App

The apps block your phone number so you never need to give personal information to the driver.

Anything necessary regarding your identity goes through the app, and everything else is private.

You can call or text your driver through the app if you left something behind or need to give them more information before pickup.

But you’ll never know their number, and they won’t have yours.

4. Verify the Ride Details When It Arrives

Ridesharing apps want to keep you safe by giving you as much information as possible.

You see your driver’s name, photo, car model, and license plate number.

But you still want to verify everything before you get into the car.

If something seems off, like your driver looks totally different, don’t get in.

Cancel the ride and contact app support with any questions.

5. Have the Driver Confirm Your Name

You have plenty of information about your driver, but they also have your name.

Before getting into the car, ask them to confirm the rider’s name.

However, be careful how you ask.

The “Say My Name” scam taught passengers how to have the driver confirm the passenger’s name before they get in.

Don’t ask the driver, “Are you Bob?” because anyone can say yes, so you’ll get in the car.

Ask them who they’re picking up.

If they don’t know your name, it’s the wrong driver or someone trying to take advantage of you.

6. Follow Safety Regulations

As with any car trip, you need to buckle your seatbelt, keep your door closed and locked, and pay attention to your surroundings.

It’s usually safer to sit in the backseat so you can exit the car from either side if necessary.

You also give your driver more space that way.

Some women share a tip of leaving their windows down.

Tell the driver you need fresh air and keep it open completely in case you need to escape or shout for help.

If your window is up and the driver puts on the child locks, you can’t get out through the door or lower the window.

7. Use Common Sense

It’s critical to trust your gut.

If the driver is acting strange or doesn’t match the picture, don’t get in just because you think you should.

It’s always better to cancel a ride and wait for something that doesn’t make you uncomfortable.

8. Report an Incident If You Feel Unsafe

Due to the enhanced safety features in each app, you can quickly call for help if needed.

You can report incidents after the ride as well, and each app will review the driver in question.

And if it comes down to it, you can report an Uber driver or a Lyft driver if you absolutely need to.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Taxis Safer Than Rideshare Vehicles?

Taxis are safe enough, but you don’t know much about the taxi driver.

Rideshare apps empower you with more information.

You know your driver’s name and car, can call for help through the app, rate your driver, and have interactive GPS to share with others.

Are Uber and Lyft Drivers Safe?

Yes, most Uber and Lyft rides ensure driver safety.

The companies run background checks and look over driving reports and criminal records.

Can I File a Lawsuit Against Uber and Lyft if I Was Assaulted?

The answer depends on the circumstances.

Many lawyers take rideshare cases, but they might go after the driver instead of the company.

You should report the assault and speak out to protect others.

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