Are Ride Sharing Services Safe?

Uber and Lyft are well-known ride-booking services. You can simply download the service application to your smartphone and conveniently request a pick up for whatever your destination may be. You even can track your driver’s location and estimated arrival with the application on your phone. The pricing is fair, and the service is convenient. As with all companies, we expect a certain standard of safety and can easily be too relax in our precautions when dealing with strangers.  After all, these are well-known companies, right?  We assume the people contracted to drive for them should be trustworthy and law-abiding citizens.  If you are one of these people who feel this way about Ride Booking services then there are things you need to know about their reported incidents, screenings, and background checks systems.
                The screening and background checks are limited to, Name, address, Drivers License, Social security number, insurance information, and year, make and model of the vehicle being used. The application process is completed online with only pictures of the items requested for the screening and background check.  This screening process does not use fingerprints or law enforcement to check the backgrounds of the drivers. Screening and background checks utilized by ride-booking services do not catch criminals.
                In Houston, Texas a fingerprint check was processed on some of the drivers for Uber who passed  Uber’s mandatory screening and background check. The results were shocking. The Uber drivers were found to have 24 alias names, 5 listed birthdates, 10 listed social security numbers, and active warrants for arrest.  The results showed prior arrests and pending warrants for such offenses as:  indecent exposure, DWI, possession of controlled substance, prostitution, fraud, battery, assault, robbery, aggravated robbery, and others.  With this, is it safe to assume ride-booking services safe?
                On October 22, 2017, in Fort Worth, Texas a 77-year-old woman who utilized the Uber transportation to go home from church was sexually assaulted by the driver, 40-year-old Hashem Ramezanpour who is believed to have left the country after the assault. Prior to this incident, in July 2017 a 22-year-old woman of San Antonio who had left a bar highly intoxicated was raped by the Uber driver hired to transport the highly intoxicated women to her apartment. There are ways to prevent such incidents from happening.
                If you choose to use a ride-booking service, you should take the necessary precautions. First, when possible, do not ride alone. If you must ride by yourself, always let someone know where you are and where you are going. Second, check the drivers I.D. and ride in the backseat of the vehicle. Do not get too relaxed in thinking that the driver has been through an extensive background check and screening. Lastly, treat the driver as you would any stranger and trust your instincts when you feel like something doesn’t seem right.  Most important if you feel that you are in danger call 911.