As college students, we’ve all probably had our fair share of wild Uber or Lyft rides. As crazy as these stories can be, I don’t think we really dwell upon the ones that are truly terrifying.
Around 2:00 AM on March 29, Samantha Josephson, a 21 year old student at the University of South Carolina, thought she was getting into an Uber, but instead got into the car of Nathaniel D. Rowland. Hours later Josephson’s body was found, and in the wake of her murder, the safety of riding in Ubers has become a huge topic of discussion.
Unfortunately, this sort of thing has been happening for a while. In the past, Uber has been notorious for its various sexual assault cases by their drivers, and also for random drivers posing as Ubers. In July of 2018, a similar case of a fake Uber driver occured when a young woman had entered a car thinking it was her Uber. Instead, she found herself fighting for her life when she was forced to jump out of the moving vehicle to avoid abduction.
In Nov. 2018, the Today Show even put out a report demonstrating how many people actually get into an Uber without really checking if it’s their driver. These fake Uber drivers are primarily preying on people leaving bars due to the fact they’re probably intoxicated and most likely not paying close attention to their surroundings.
This is absolutely aggravating. Uber and Lyft are supposed to be systems that are there to help those who are under the influence in order to keep them from getting behind the wheel of a car. People like Josephson were doing the right thing by calling a ride, but the fact that there are people taking advantage of this system and using it to harm others is disgusting and terrifying. It’s especially horrifying for young women who are traveling by themselves due to the fact that they have a higher risk of being sexually assaulted by their abductor. It’s bad enough that we as women have to be cautious of leaving our houses alone late at night, but the fact that we can’t even rely on using a car service to avoid walking around by ourselves is even more frustrating.
As easy and convenient as Uber and Lyft are, we need to stop blindly trusting them. As college students, we want to go to bars and make sure our late nights out are as safe as possible. This includes not riding in an Uber alone if you’re intoxicated and making sure that you are entering the correct car. Knowing who you’re getting into a car with could potentially save your life, and it’s also so important to pay attention to your surroundings when you are in an Uber or a Lyft.
Uber and Lyft both list safety tips on their websites about how to deal with this kind of issue. Some tips that I personally use when I ride alone in an Uber or a Lyft, tips that we should all use, are that I double check the license plate before getting in the car, and I share my location with my mom or a trusted friend. Also, when approaching the car and speaking to the driver, I always ask who they are picking up and make sure they say my name before getting in. On the ride, you can also double check your location to make sure the driver is going the right way.
I cannot stress enough that there needs to be more caution when getting into an Uber or a Lyft. As much as we wish we could always depend on driving services to get us safely to where we need to go, we need to make sure that whatever stranger drives us to our destination is one we can trust.