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Woman’s Guide to Safely Using Rideshare Apps

ridesharing app safety tips

In the age of the sharing economy, ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have taken off in cities with limited public transportation or expensive taxis. They can cost less than half the price of a traditional cab, and they’re even considered safer in some countries.

It’s a matter of trust on both sides, as they assume you won’t steal their car, and you assume they won’t kidnap you, similar to AirBnB and Couchsurfing. And the concept of not carrying cash and paying from your phone is ideal.

But there are some safety concerns that travelers face. So whether you’re using these apps at home or abroad, we’re sharing a few easy safety tips that can make your journey better. All of these are assuming you’re riding alone.

Before You Get in the Car

Confirm that the car and license plate match the one on the app.
I’ve heard from someone I know that a car would drive up outside a crowded bar or restaurant and claim to be an Uber driver, only to have someone get in their car and be robbed. You also might get into the wrong car on accident, as I did recently at the airport. The same goes for the driver’s photo. Does the picture not match the person? Cancel the trip.

Take a picture of the car/license plate before you get in.
In case something happens, you’ll have a record or an image to send to someone to call for help. Also, have the phone number of local law enforcement saved in your phone.

See the reviews.
You have the option of rating the ride after your journey. So if someone gets low ratings, you know something must be off. It might just be that they are a reckless driver or get lost easily, but it’s better to know up front.

Use the “pool” option.
A newer option is the carpooling rideshare. This takes longer to get to your destination, but allows others to ride in the same car in the same direction. It means that another person will be there in case something goes awry.

Protect yourself.
Most travelers won’t have a need for pepper spray or anything more serious, but simple objects can help you defend yourself if you ever need to. A high-powered whistle or personal alarm can signal others, and your keys can be helpful to poke an attacker in the eye. Be sure not to drink too much before catching a ride as it can be difficult to defend yourself while under the influence.

>>Read about safety perks that are worth the splurge.

using rideshare apps like uber and lyft

During Your Ride

Follow the journey on map in Google Maps offline mode.
If you, like me, have no sense of direction, you can set your Google Maps app to offline mode and still track where the car is going without using data. This is especially helpful when traveling overseas. If you see the dot moving away from where you’re trying to go, get out immediately.

Call a friend on the journey.
If your data plan will allow it, call someone while you’re in the car. You can mention that you’re in an Uber or Lyft and the type of car you’re traveling in. It might sound like an odd conversation, but again it helps tell someone where you are.

Set your destination near your real destination.
If you’re going home, you might not want a stranger knowing where you live. So if possible, find a nearby location, whether a bar or restaurant or nearby hotel lobby, that you can enter until the driver has gone.

I should point out that I’ve never had any serious problems with ridesharing apps, apart from some crazy drivers and one driver who started driving off while I was getting out of the car. I still recommend these services, especially for travelers. Try Lyft or Uber for yourself to decide.

How do you feel about ridesharing?

Related Reading:

How to safely use rideshare apps.

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Anouk says

    I live in Germany and for a year I travelled twice a month for 3,5 hours to another city on Friday and back again on Sunday. I used a website which now is part of blablacar (used to be miyfahrgelegenheit). The first time I checked the plates etc. But after that I didn’t. Most of the time there was a guy driving and two other women who were also travelling alone. Apart from one weird driver and one rude guy I met a lot of nice Germans who were really open minded.
    Now they have a system where you book a car and the payment goes through the app. So the driver and the people coming with him/her know that it is certain. It costs a bit more per trip but once a woman didn’t show up and the rude guy had overbooked his car in case there was a no show. That won’t happen now. It is less anonymous too. I like it and still use it regurlarly. I think it’s an easy way to get somewhere and it is 4 times cheaper than trains which are really expensive here.
    They also have women for women rides I believe but those are not often and only between big cities on busy times.
    I would definitely recommend it as a way to travel Germany.

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