7 tips to stay safe when using an Uber this festive season

7 tips to stay safe when using an Uber this festive season

The festive season is a time to rest, have fun and enjoy yourself with loved ones, however, it is also a period of high criminal activity, calling for individuals to be extra cautious when out and about.

e-Hailing taxi services such as Uber and Bolt have been inundated with safety complaints from drivers being hijacked to clients being sexually assaulted whilst using these platforms.

Earlier this year, Bolt landed in hot water after a Twitter user alleged that one of the app’s drivers had raped and strangled a woman causing public outcry.

More recently, Security company Fidelity ADT and these e-hailing services issued a warning to homeowners to remain alert when leaving their homes to collect food or other deliveries following a new crime trend of delivery drivers and customers being robbed during the delivery process.

Head of Platform Safety for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa, Collen Mphabantshi, urged riders and drivers who use the Uber app to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings this festive season and to trust their instincts and judgment.

“If you feel something isn’t right, use the safety features available to you in the App. Let us assist each other to enjoy this period as safely as possible,” said Mphabantshi.

With all the safety concerns that come with using e-hailing services, especially during this period where criminals seek to take advantage, here are more safety tips from the e-hailing service for travelling this festive season.

1. Wait indoors for your ride

Uber recommends that you ensure that you wait for your driver in a safe well-lit area, preferably with someone, until your confirmed driver has arrived.

“It is never a good idea to have your phone in clear sight outdoors or to stand in the dark. Rather wait indoors until you are notified through the app that your driver has arrived,” said the app.

2. Check Your Ride

It is recommended that you check that the license plate, vehicle colour, driver photo and name all match what’s listed in the app before starting your trip.

“Rides can only be requested through the Uber app. Avoid sharing personal information with your driver via the app and never agree to take rides off the app as you will not have access to the safety features,” said Uber.

The service provider also has a phone anonymisation feature so that when a rider and driver contact each other regarding a trip, both phone numbers are anonymised – meaning you are unable to see each other’s personal contact details.

4. Share your trip

Uber also recommends that you share your driver’s first name and vehicle information, plus your map location in real-time with up to five people from your contact list so you can feel more secure by keeping loved ones up to speed.

5. Be a backseat rider

If you’re riding alone, sit in the backseat. This ensures you can safely exit on either side of the vehicle to avoid moving traffic and gives you and your driver some personal space.

6. Record your ride

Make use of the recently added Audio Recording feature which has officially been rolled out across South Africa. This feature allows riders and drivers to record audio while they are on a trip and to share such audio with Uber in the case of a safety incident.

7. Understand your safety features

Always take the time to review the safety features in the app. “We have recently launched the Safety Check-Up feature that encourages riders to utilise and turn on the safety features available in-app, including Trusted Contacts, Verify My Ride and RideCheck. If there is ever an emergency, Uber’s in-app emergency button is available in the safety toolkit (blue shield). Located just a tap away, this feature links to private security and emergency services,” said the e-hailing service.

8. In-app Help

Make use of the In-app Help feature. “This tool is designed to help you get a prompt response to your queries in the shortest time possible. Navigate to the “Help’’ section on the app, which helps riders and driver-partners alike to communicate any concerns they may have during a trip so that they can get a response as soon as possible. To speak with an agent, go to Help in your Uber Driver app, then tap Call Support. Riders can access the support line by dialling 0800172956,” said Uber.

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