How do you protect yourself when using ridesharing companies?
The dangers of Uber and Lyft are real, with new cases coming to light and lawsuits being filed against these ridesharing giants. Yet, are they that different from traditional cabs or limo services? Unfortunately, both of these companies are anti-Second Amendment and have policies against firearms, but they are a necessity that has taken over the transportation market.
ConcealedCarry.com has some of the best resources for breaking down policies, statutes, and other legalities that are vague and hard to understand what you can and cannot do. Two of the most helpful articles on this subject are Firearm in an Uber - Uncovering their Policy? and What is Lyft’s Gun Policy? Essentially, both Uber and Lyft do not allow firearms or weapons inside any vehicles providing their services. Still, they’re written to infer there are no criminal infractions with carrying a gun if you are legally allowed. If you get caught with a firearm, you lose your job as a driver, and as a rider, your account gets disabled. In my opinion, life is worth more than a job or a driver's service.
Everything we learned as a kid about strangers has gone out the window for convenience's sake, and with technology continuing to evolve, this seems to be the way of the future. In a recent article, the number of incidents for drivers in service gig-type jobs has been rising in the last five years. The dangers of Uber and Lyft are astronomical. Lyft released a safety report last year that shared more than 4,000 cases of sexual assault have occurred over three years during the use of its ride-sharing services. Uber released a similar report years earlier about sexual assault under their platform use.
So how can you stay as safe as possible even when using these ride-sharing services? Here are five tips on ways to defend yourself and prevent any incident from occurring:
When the driver drives up to where you are, always ask them what their name is rather than you asking them if they are John Doe. Instead of asking a yes or no question, always have them repeat their name to you so you can match it with their name on the app.
Tell a family member or friend that you’re about to hop in an Uber or Lyft and screenshot the app information with the driver’s name, license plate, and vehicle type so they have that information. Let them know a time to expect to hear back from you that you arrived safely at your destination. Once you have completed your trip, let them know you are safe.
With cloud technology, you can share an album with friends or family on your phone and put photos of the car and driver into this folder and any videos. Criminals do not like it when people look them in the eye, take a mental scan of their face, and can identify them out of a crowd. Instead of looking down at your phone during the ride or avoiding the driver, look them full in the face and try to identify as much as possible about the person so if you close your eyes, you could share their hair color, eye color, what they’re wearing, and more. Your phone is full of helpful tools such as the Find my Friends app or even Apple maps, where you can share your location, including your active trip. Consider calling a friend on Facetime or blatantly recording yourself during the trip, as any video or photo activity can deter a criminal.
Drivers trap riders in their vehicles by using “child lock” on the back seat doors. Before getting in and closing your door, ensure the child lock is not activated.
Assess your surroundings in the car. Look at what’s around you that could be a potential weapon if you need to defend yourself if you don’t have a gun. The heel of a high heel can be a deadly weapon if you need it to be, similar to John Wick with a pencil. If you carry hair spray, hand sanitizer spray, breath spray, or even perfume, these can all act similar to pepper spray when sprayed towards an attacker's eyes. Seat belts can be used for strangling. One of the best tools I recommend buying is a tactical pen. While these pens do write, many are sharp-ended to scratch someone's face, have a glass breaker on them, and can be used to stab an attacker. Any disguised non-lethal weapon is better than having nothing.
The dangers of Uber and Lyft aren’t going away any time soon. Criminals are restless, and these large tech companies cannot guarantee that every driver or rider is safe to ride with. You have to be your own line of defense and be prepared for any scenario.
Kenzie Fitzpatrick is a professional competitive shooter and an active blogger for many firearm websites. As an NRA-certified instructor and National Range Officer Institute Chief Range Officer, Kenzie trains new shooters on basic firearm safety, brings new shooters to competitive shooting, and works major matches across the country. She has a passion for teaching people how to carry concealed and is a positive ambassador for the Second Amendment.
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