Rideshare transportation provides convenient and affordable ways to get around. While they offer an accessible service for people to travel, Fairfax County police are warning the community to stay alert and prioritize safety when using the apps.
The department says so far this year, they have received three reports of sexual assaults by a rideshare driver working for companies like Uber or Lyft. Detective Sgt. Amanda Paris says, "one is too many."
Sgt. Paris says the cases don’t seem to be connected, and at this time, no one is behind bars for the crime.
While it may seem easy to solve since the name and photo of the driver is available on rideshare apps, there’s more to it.
"Sometimes investigations just take time to verify that information from those rideshare accounts to be able to go ahead and move forward with that investigation and into an arrest," Sgt. Paris explained.
Rideshare companies are releasing safety data of their own. According to Uber, the company received close to 4,000 claims of sexual assault from 2019 to 2020. The details reveal in a number of cases, the victims were intoxicated or impaired in some way.
As for Lyft, more than 4,000 reports of sexual assault between 2017 and 2019. That’s why Sgt. Paris says it is important to protect yourself.
"Verify the driver and the vehicle," she said. "A lot of times they have the pictures of the driver you should be expecting, but also their license plate as well."
In addition, police recommend taking a screenshot of the details of your ride, send it to family and friends, and let them know where you’re going so if they don’t hear from you by a certain time – they know to call 911.
"The biggest thing is to trust your instinct so if at any time anything feels off or seems wrong, maybe unsafe or makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s okay to – if you’re in that ride – to ask that driver to just stop at a well-lit area and let you off and find a ride at a different time," Paris said.
Check out some tips on rideshare safety from Fairfax County Police below:
- Verify the driver and car: Before getting into the vehicle, ensure that the driver’s name, photo, and license plate match the details provided on the app. Do not hesitate to cancel the ride if something seems off or unfamiliar.
- Share trip details: Let a friend or family member know when and where you are going, along with the driver’s details. Use the app’s share feature to send them a live trip update.
- Sit in the back: Always choose the back seat, as it provides a safer distance and allows you to exit the vehicle from either side in case of an emergency.
- Stay aware of the route: Follow the route on your phone’s GPS or familiarize yourself with the general direction to ensure the driver is taking you toward your destination.
- Check reviews: Before booking a ride, review the driver’s rating and read previous passengers’ reviews to get an idea of their reliability and professionalism.
- Trust your instincts: If at any point you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, trust your instincts and ask the driver to stop at a well-lit, populated area. You can also call emergency services if necessary.
- Avoid sharing personal information:While it’s essential to communicate with the driver about directions or any necessary information, avoid sharing unnecessary personal details to maintain your privacy and safety.
- Be cautious with alcohol consumption: If you’ve been drinking, it’s always better to avoid riding alone. Consider traveling with a trusted friend or using other reliable transportation methods.
- Report any issues: If you experience any safety concerns or inappropriate behavior, report it to Uber or Lyft immediately, providing them with all relevant details.
- Call the police: If for any reason you feel uncomfortable or think you might need immediate assistance, do not hesitate to call 911.