The Dangers of Catching a Ride With Uber

In a single decade, the previous norms of calling a taxi cab or stepping onto public transportation to get to a destination have all but dwindled away into history in favor of the privacy and convenience of rideshare apps like Uber. With the tap of an app on a smartphone, our ride arrives and we step into a private vehicle with a stranger. While Uber’s most recent safety report assures passengers that 99.9% of Uber rides transpire without any need for an incident report, the company recognizes that the statistic is little comfort to those who’ve been harmed, including victims of 3,824 reports of serious sexual assaults and misconduct, and 20 murders during the two year period of the report. 

An independent report in July of 2022 revealed that a single law firm had 550 clients from multiple states with claims against Uber for sexual assaults, rapes, kidnapping, stalking, and sexual harassment by Uber drivers.

Before your next ride with Uber, it’s important to have a clear picture of the dangers associated with the most popular rideshare.

Danger of catching a ride with Uber. Person waiting with rideshare vehicle

Unreliable Background Checks

Uber users the company, Checkr for background checks before hiring drivers as a means of minimizing risks to passengers. Unfortunately, the background checks performed by Checkr have some flaws. Checkr does not check driver history beyond 7 years. Uber has faced criticism in recent years for lack of thoroughness in their background checks. There are also multiple social media threads with tips for potential drivers to help them pass background checks, which may include gaps that allow drivers through who should be disqualified.

Uber now runs annual background checks on all drivers as well as the initial background check so they stay alert to any changes in a driver’s criminal record.

Uber Dangers for Women

Women are by far the most frequently victimized by Uber drivers with harmful intentions. Women should take the following precautions when using Uber or Lyft:

  • Wait inside for your Uber vehicle to arrive instead of out by the street where it may be obvious to onlookers that you’re waiting for an Uber
  • Always check more than the make and model of the car. Always check that the license tag and driver ID match the information on the app
  • Sit in the back seat and don’t give the driver any personal information about yourself during the ride
  • Trust your instincts, and if the driver’s behavior or demeanor raises your suspicions, use the on-trip reporting system on the app to make a silent report to Uber. In an immediate emergency, there’s also a silent 911 option on the app. Passengers can use the “Share my Trip” feature to share their trip status and GPS location with a trusted individual.

Accidents and Uber Liability

Because Uber doesn’t directly employ drivers but instead operates only as an app connecting independent contractors with passengers, they avoid liability in many types of accidents and incidents of assaults and other crimes related to their drivers. Fortunately, Uber does have a policy providing accident insurance coverage for passengers, with the coverage in effect when the Uber vehicle is actively on the way to pick up a passenger and during passenger transportation. In states like Florida, there are exceptions to no-fault insurance laws when it comes to Uber accidents.

To protect yourself from injury in an Uber accident, take the following steps:

  • Always ride in the backseat and fasten your seatbelt
  • Refuse the ride if the car lacks properly working seatbelts
  • Avoid distracting the driver
  • Report drivers who speed, appear inebriated or distracted, or drive recklessly. Don’t get into the vehicle if you suspect the driver is impaired
  • If your driver is engaging in unsafe or suspicious behavior, ask them to stop and let you out in a safe location, report them through the Uber app, and request another driver.

By remaining alert and aware of potential dangers with Uber, passengers can minimize risks. However, if you’ve been injured or harmed during an Uber ride, a Fort Lauderdale Uber accident attorney with experience in Uber accidents, assaults, and other incidents may be able to help you understand your rights.