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How to stay safe when using ride-sharing services

HOUSTON – Gregory Dupree is a 20-year law enforcement veteran and creator of Think Like A Cop Now, where he offers online training for ride-share users and drivers. He shared safety strategies he said all riders should know before ever getting into the back of a rideshare vehicle.

Safest seat in the car

“If you ask any ride-share driver, if you ask any police officer ... ’Where is the one place you don’t want people sitting in your vehicle?’ They’ll tell you, ‘directly behind me,’ because it puts them at a disadvantage."

According to Dupree, sitting behind your driver will make it more difficult for them to grab you for an attack.

“If you’re behind him, you have the time to get out of the vehicle,” said Dupree. “You should wait until the vehicle comes to as close to a complete stop as possible, and get out as quickly as you can.”

Make sure you can get out before you ever get in

“One of the things that you’ve commonly heard is the safety tip that tells you to check the child safety lock on the vehicle to make sure that it’s not engaged,” said Dupree.

“One of the things that is commonly overlooked is to also check to see if the window is locked. Check the window to see if it can roll down, that way you can open the door from the outside.

Always assume you’re being recorded

“If you share too much information the driver can actually use that against you in other means, track you down on social media. If you’re going out of town they can be aware that your house is vacant and they burglarize your home while you’re away,” said Dupree.

He also warned business travelers to be cautious about making calls from rideshare vehicles.

“They can be sharing proprietary information, so you have to be very careful about the conversations you have,” Dupree said.

Be observant, always

Dupree warned that all attacks won’t take place inside the vehicle. He said sometimes drivers work in conjunction with others to set you up for an attack once you’re dropped off.

“You always want to be concerned about the potential of being victimized beyond just the ride. You should be paying attention to the overall behavior of the driver. Is the driver nervous? Is the driver sweaty? Is he having conversations on a cellphone, in a very low tone or low voice that sounds suspicious?

He said to cautious if the driver has multiple cellphones.

“Obviously, one in the vehicle for rideshare services but the other cellphone he could be actually contacting people that could be setting you up for another crime.”

He continued: “Crimes are committed not just by the drivers within the vehicle, but they could have criminal associates outside the vehicle that could victimize you once your ride ends.”

Check vehicle for signal jammers

Dupree said if a driver has ill intent, they will have the signal jammers set up in their cars so riders cannot make calls out for help. He suggested riders browse the internet and find images of signal jammers so they can recognize one if they see it.

“Signal jammers come in various forms shapes and sizes," he said. "They usually plug into the vehicles lighter and they can be as small as a lighter plug or as big as a small box. They can be purchased over the internet for as low as $9.”

Call 911 in the case of an emergency

In December 2019, Uber released its U.S. Safety Report where the company disclosed 3,045 sexual assaults were reported in 2018.

Also, 19 women filed a lawsuit against ride-share company Lyft, saying they were sexually assaulted by drivers.

Both ride-share companies have come under fire in recent years for sexual assault allegations from riders, against drivers.

Each company has introduced a “panic button” feature which allows passengers to dial 911 during the ride if they feel they are in danger. Below is more information on how to enable the feature on both apps.

Lyft: https://www.lyft.com/safety

Uber: https://www.uber.com/newsroom/getting-serious-safety/