With more than three million drivers on the road, you don’t always know who you’re stepping into an Uber with.
Even with the intense Uber background checks, nefarious people can still slip through the cracks.
Such was the case with the “Uber Driver Killer,” Jason Dalton.
Keep reading for an in-depth look at who Jason Dalton was, what he did, and how his case ended.
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Who Was the Uber Driver Killer?
The Uber Driver Killer is the name given to Jason Brian Dalton.
This former Uber driver fatally shot six different people in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Two others were critically injured.
The rampage was startling to those who knew Dalton.
At the trial, he even pled guilty to first-degree murder of his own accord.
About Jason Dalton
When he committed the shooting, Jason Dalton was a 45-year-old insurance adjuster.
He wanted to make some money in his downtime so he could take his family to Disney World.
That’s when he began driving for Uber.
After the shooting, Dalton blamed the Uber app for his crimes.
When the police interrogated him, Dalton told them that a “devil head” appeared when he opened the Uber app.
He detailed how the app took over his mind and body.
What Did the Uber Driver Killer Do?
A couple of days before the shooting, Dalton’s wife noticed he was quiet and tired.
Besides this, she didn’t see any unusual behavior in her husband.
The day that he committed the crime, Dalton began accepting Uber rides like usual.
This time, he brought his German Shepherd with him.
While one passenger refused to get into the vehicle because of the dog, most of his riders had no issue with it.
This includes Matt Mellen, who was one of Dalton’s last rides.
Mellen made polite conversation with Dalton for most of the ride.
After a short phone call, Dalton’s demeanor seemed to change.
His driving behavior radically shifted too.
He floored the gas pedal and began to drive recklessly.
Mellen recounted that he drove into oncoming traffic, blew through a stop sign, and even sideswiped another car.
Mellen begged Dalton to stop the car, and eventually, he did.
After Mellen was out of the car, he called 911 with a bystander but received a lackluster response.
Dalton returned home after letting Mellen out, but only to load up several of his guns.
Afterward, he got back into the car and started accepting new rides.
The next ride he accepted was for DeAllen Blackburn.
However, there was a miscommunication, and Dalton ended up at the wrong pickup point.
The trouble started when he got to the wrong pickup point.
He pulled over to ask a woman, Tiana Carruthers, if she was the person he was supposed to pick up.
Carruthers was leading several children through a playground.
When she told Dalton she wasn’t the rider, he pulled out his gun and shot her several times.
After shooting his first victim several times, Dalton began picking up new riders.
Despite her injuries, Carruthers survived.
Dalton’s riders during this time didn’t notice anything unusual about Dalton.
He didn’t recklessly drive as he had with Mellen.
Dalton’s next victims were a father and son outside of a car dealership, and his last victims were five women inside a white van.
Four of the women died, but the final victim, a teenage girl named Abigail, survived a gunshot to the head.
Even after killing six people, Dalton returned home shortly and then went out again to start picking up more Uber riders.
Although he was driving with a loaded murder weapon in his coat, none of his new riders noticed anything different about Dalton.
It wasn’t until a couple of hours later that the local authorities arrested Dalton and took him into custody.
What Happened to the Uber Driver Killer?
After pleading guilty, what happened to Jason Dalton?
Here’s what you should know.
At the trial, Jason Dalton pled guilty to all the charges against him, including six counts of murder, eight felony firearm charges, and two counts of assault with intent to murder.
At his sentencing, Jason Dalton received six life sentences without any chance for parole.
Dalton received each life sentence for each life he took on the night of the shooting.
Is Uber Safe?
The case of the Uber Driver Killer has raised some concerns about whether Uber is safe for riders.
It’s important to note that this killing spree happened in 2016, and Uber has added more safety features.
Their new safety features for riders include:
- Each driver goes through a criminal background check and a background check of their driver history, and drivers get vetted each year.
- Your number stays private even when you use the app to communicate with the driver, so they cannot see your actual phone number.
- You can press an Emergency Assistance button in the app if you need to call 911, and this button also sends your trip details to the police.
- Drivers have a rating system, and you can check your driver’s ratings before you get in their car.
- A RideCheck feature helps Uber detect when a driver goes too far off the designated route.
Uber also has a way for riders to report when they feel unsafe – both on and off trips – and they have 24/7 customer service to respond to safety issues.
What to Do if You Feel Unsafe in an Uber
Along with the safety features listed above, here’s what you can do if you’re feeling unsafe in an Uber.
1. Ask the Driver to Stop
If the driver’s behavior is making you feel unsafe, you can ask them to stop.
Even if you haven’t reached your destination, you can exit the vehicle and report the ride
2. Contact Someone for Help
Suppose the driver refuses to stop, and you feel the situation may escalate further?
In that case, you should contact the authorities for help – either by dialing 911 yourself or using the emergency button in the Uber app.
3. Report the Issue to Uber
Once you’ve gotten away from the driver, you should always report the issue to Uber as soon as possible.
Since Uber’s team works around the clock, one of their agents should get back to you shortly so that you can give more details about the trip.
Depending on the severity of the issue, Uber is likely to remove the driver from their rideshare service, so they can’t accept new rides.
How to Ensure a Safe Uber Ride
On a day-to-day basis, here are some ways to ensure your Uber rides are safe and comfortable.
1. Have the Driver Confirm Your Name
Before ever getting inside a car, it’s always good to ask the Uber driver to confirm your name from the app.
As an added safety precaution, you should make sure the car’s model and license plate match what is displayed in the app.
If the driver cannot give your name or the car doesn’t match what they should be driving, you should not get into the vehicle.
However, be aware that there is a scam called the “Uber say my name scam“, so they may be a bit hesitant.
2. Cancel Rides With Poorly Rated Drivers
You can see an Uber driver’s rating once they accept the ride, and if they have a poor rating, you should cancel the ride.
Anything under four stars may indicate that the driver isn’t following Uber’s policies as they should, and you’re better off waiting for a new ride.
3. Tell Someone Where You Are Going
Whenever you’re going to catch an Uber, don’t forget to tell a friend or family member where you’re going and what time you should arrive at your destination.
Once you’ve gotten into the Uber, you can even send the driver’s name and license plate information to this person as an added precaution.
If you don’t arrive at your destination safely, this other person can contact the authorities on your behalf.
4. Watch the Route on the App
While you’re in the car, you should be able to see the route in real-time.
The app displays the route that the driver should be taking.
If you notice they’re taking a wrong turn, you can always ask why.
If the driver starts to make you feel unsafe, you can request to get out of the vehicle.
5. Trust Your Gut
More than anything, it’s essential to trust your gut whenever you use a rideshare service.
If you have a bad feeling during the ride, don’t feel shy about ending the ride.
You can also contact Uber to tell them why the driver made you uncomfortable.
If you felt uncomfortable during the ride, other riders might have too.
The case of the Uber Driver Killer is not only tragic, but it raises concerns for riders who take Ubers and other rideshares regularly.
While there’s always a risk when riding with strangers, using the safety tips above and trusting your gut are crucial elements to staying safe.