Apps like Uber and Lyft have revolutionized the ability to get a ride. How do you stay safe while riding in the backseat?
They are everywhere and have become a mainstay of urban living. I live in a rural environment, but I use the occasional Uber or Lyft on vacation every year at SHOT Show and similar events. With that in mind, I think I’m a little more cautious than most. Riding with strangers is new to me, and it makes me a bit more cautious. With that in mind, I wanted to share a few tips for staying safe while using a rideshare app.
Safety and situational awareness are constants. They never really end. So with that in mind, think before you call for a rideshare. Where are you, and where can you be? Is your location safe at the moment?
It might seem safe, but could you be safer across the street in Walgreens while you wait for your ride? Standing outside, glued to your phone, waiting for a car to pick you up isn’t the safest bet. If possible, wait inside and preferably with friends. If alone, be sure to text a friend or family member and let them know you are taking a rideshare and where you are going.
The two main rideshare apps share the make, model, license plate, and often a picture of the driver. Take time to learn them before the car arrives and ensure they match with who sent the ride. Before entering the car, ask who they are here to pick up. Most of the time, they’ll automatically say I’m here for Jim, and if you’re Jim, you know you’re good to go.
If you feel sketched out by the driver, car, or general situation, then say no thanks and move on. Fear is a gift, and you should follow your instincts. If you don’t feel safe, then move. Drivers do receive ratings, and maybe those are worth checking out as the driver approaches. If the driver seemingly has someone riding with them that sets off the danger bells feel free to cancel the ride
When the vehicle arrives, sit in the back. This places you further away from the driver and puts you in an advantageous position. If you conceal carry, your driver is going to have a real hard time trying to effectively harm you from the front seat while driving. The backseat also allows you to escape from multiple angles to avoid escaping into traffic or being stuck in the car.
Lyft and Uber have built-in safety apps. These shared status updates allow you to send a text message or even allow a family member or friend to track your location. It will send an ETA as well, so they know where you are going and when you are supposed to be there.
Also, use your common sense and wear your seatbelt to ensure you can unlock the door. If your driver tries anything, be ready to dial 911. It helps to pay attention to the area you are in. The map provided by rideshare services tracks the route and allows you to track it as well. If a driver goes off the route, you know where they are going and can report your location.
Your personal safety and security are your responsibility. Take it seriously. As normal as rideshare apps can be and as safe as they usually are, it’s always wise to approach them with a degree of caution. Not paranoia, but a plan and means to keep yourself safe. Keeping yourself and your family safe is your number one priority, even when you just need a lift.
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA-certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms-based hobbies.
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