rideshare is an exciting innovation in transportation that makes it easier than ever to get around without a car (or at least during those times when you’re unable to drive). It’s a liberating feeling to know that no matter where you are, you can summon a ride 24/7 with a couple taps on your smartphone.
But with exciting new technologies also come questions of risk and safety. Rideshare, in particular, can seem like a risky proposition. After all, you’re essentially getting into a car with a stranger each time you take a ride. How do you know that you can trust the driver, and what can you do to stay safe? That’s what we’ll cover in this post, examining everything you need to know about Uber and Lyft safety.
Both Uber and Lyft take driver and passenger safety seriously. This manifests itself in a variety of features and policies that each platform has.
Uber and Lyft Safety Policies
To start with, all Uber drivers and Lyft drivers must undergo a variety of driver screening processes. The first part of this is a criminal history background check, which ensures that drivers don’t have convictions for felonies, sexual offenses, or violent crimes. Potential drivers also have to pass a driving history check, have a valid driver’s license, and possess valid liability insurance.
Finally, drivers in many states are required to pass a vehicle inspection, which ensures that the vehicle itself is safe. And only newer vehicles are allowed on the platform in general, so you know you won’t be riding in a car that doesn’t have airbags or other standard, modern safety features.
Uber and Lyft App Safety Features
When you’re using either platform, the app contains additional features to help keep you safe.
To start, both apps show you an image of the driver’s vehicle, a photograph of the driver, and the vehicle’s license plate number. These features are helpful when you’re getting picked up in a crowded area full of lots of drivers, but they also help you ensure you’re getting in the vehicle of an actual rideshare driver (as opposed to a stranger pretending to be one). You can also use this information to hold the driver accountable for any unsafe things they do.
Location Sharing and ETA
If you’re worried about riding in a vehicle with a stranger alone (which is understandable), both apps also have a feature that allows you to update family members or other trusted contacts with your current location and ETA.
To share your status in an Uber ride, follow these steps:
- When you request a ride and a driver accepts, you can swipe up on your app screen and tap Send Status.
- This shares your trip details with friends or family. They’ll receive a notification.
- Opening this notification displays your driver’s first name, vehicle info, and your map location in real-time.
- To pre-select up to 5 contacts to receive your status, select “Settings” from your app menu. You can also add more contacts manually when sending your trip status.
For Lyft, the process is similar:
- Tap “Send ETA” after requesting a ride to send your friend or family member a text message with an in-app link to your current route and location.
- They’ll be able to see see your progress toward the destination, a photo of the driver, and the vehicle color, make, model, and license plate number.
Driver and Passenger Rating Systems
One of the simplest ways to keep passengers and drivers safe is the rating system that Uber and Lyft both use. This allows passengers and drivers to rate each other on a scale of 1–5 stars.
In addition to the rating, both parties have the option to leave feedback explaining what went well (and what could have gone better). If either a driver or a passenger conducts themselves in an unsafe manner, you can mention it after the ride. Feedback is anonymous to both parties in order to prevent retaliatory feedback.
While the in-app rating system is a good method to report safety issues, you’ll want to contact Uber or Lyft directly when there’s a more serious issue. As with any safety issue, you should always contact law enforcement in an emergency situation or if you feel that you’re in immediate danger.
But to make a formal report of serious safety violations, both companies also have their own procedures.
To report an issue to Uber, fill out the form on this page.
Note that this form is for reporting serious violations, such as reckless driving, verbal aggression, or sexual assault. If a driver was just rude or ran a stop sign, then you can make note of that by giving driver feedback within the Uber app.
To report an issue to Lyft, you can call their critical response line at this link. Click or tap “Call Me” to get started:
The same policies apply: only use this line for serious safety issues. Make note of all minor concerns when you rate the driver.
Now that you understand the basics of what Uber and Lyft do to keep riders and driver safe, as well as how to report any safety incidents that occur, let’s answer some other commonly asked questions regarding rideshare safety:
1. Are rideshare services safer than taxis?
For the longest time, taxis were the only ride-hailing services available. Therefore, whether they were safe or not, people used them out of necessity. Taxi companies have their issues, to be sure. To start, there’s no way to rate your driver on either their driving or behavior. This is a disadvantage compared to both Uber and Lyft, which hold drivers accountable for their actions in a way that taxi companies do not.
Furthermore, both Uber and Lyft allow you to send real-time status updates on your arrival time and location that are automatically based on the info in their apps. You can’t do this with traditional taxis.
You also have to trust that the random taxi you see on the street is actually a legitimate one, whereas with Uber and Lyft you can use the app to get a car with full information on the license plate, driver, and vehicle description. You can mitigate this with taxi drivers by calling the cab company directly, but that’s a lot more difficult than just using a mobile app.
In terms of reporting serious safety violations, you have the same sorts of options with taxis as with rideshare apps. You can call the company and give the taxi’s license number, though it’s hard to guarantee the company will actually do anything. Mind you, this can be an issue with Uber and Lyft as well.
Overall, we think that the additional features in rideshare apps make them safer to use than taxis. Plus, the increased convenience means you’re more likely to use them, presenting a safe alternative to walking alone at night or trying to drive while intoxicated.
2. How do Uber vs. Lyft compare when it comes to safety concerns?
Overall, both companies are equal. Uber tends to get more bad press since they’re the more popular and widespread of the two companies (and they haven’t handled safety problems well in the past).
Currently, however, both companies offer the same safety and reporting features, and the competition between them ensures that when one app adds a new safety feature, the other will be quick to follow.
Of course, there are always safety risks with any sort of transportation, whether you’re taking a tax, catching the bus, hailing a rideshare vehicle, or even driving yourself.
3. Which rideshare vehicle type is the safest?
With a variety of platforms such as Lyft Line, Lyft Lux, UberPOOL, UberBLACK, and UberX on the market, it’s natural to wonder if one is safer than another. In terms of driver screening, all these platforms are the same. They must undergo the same background and driving history checks, as well as have insurance.
If you want to be extra safe, however, you might consider UberBLACK or Lyft Lux. These are the most professional, highest-rated drivers. They have commercial insurance and meet the licensing standards for professional drivers in their cities.
Also, you can avoid taking shared rides such as UberPOOL or Lyft Line when traveling at night. During these times, you’re more likely to have drunk, rowdy Uber of Lyft riders get in the vehicle with you, which can create some unpredictable situations. Of course, you can report misconduct of other passengers, but it’s even easier to avoid it altogether by foregoing shared rides in the night hours.
Stay Safe With Uber and Lyft
We hope you now have a better understanding of what Uber and Lyft do to keep you safe, as well as some safety tips that you can apply to your next rideshare trip. Most rideshare rides occur without any issues, but it’s best to know what to do in the situations where problems do arise.