Op / Ed

How Safe Are Ride Sharing Apps?

The soaring popularity of ride sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft are giving way to reports of abuse from drivers: from assaults to kidnapping to sexual harassment.  Uber especially has come under fire for not doing enough to check the backgrounds of potential drivers.

Although highly convenient, it does seem that a system that has grown as fast as Uber is bound to face some issues.  Uber allows people to use their own cars to give people rides.  Uber apparently does a background check but many claim that it’s not enough.

I have personally used Uber quite a bit and have had no problems; all the drivers were extremely nice and courteous and their cars were clean and in some cases brand new.  I have also used plenty of “yellow cabs” and almost all the time the service was shoddy – rude drivers, bad drivers, and harassment.  So will a few bad apples spoil the bunch for ride sharing apps?

There are a few new apps that are set to contend and boast higher security features and more driver safety advantages.  AsterRide and Shuddle are two such examples.  They are adding passenger tracking and panic buttons to their apps.  They are also attempting to add services such as more extensive driver background checks as well as an all female fleet (which may be a target of reverse abuse but it remains to be seen).  AsterRide is only available in Phoenix and will be expanding soon, and only works with existing black car and cab companies.  Another feature in AsterRide is InstaAlert, which will notify pre-selected emergency contacts such as friends and family and will send them updates as to when you are picked up and dropped off.

Uber is following up with increased security measures as well.  In Chicago the company is beginning to audit rides using security specialists and off duty police officers.  They are also planning to beef up their screening processes.  They have also updated their app with a “Share My ETA” feature that will share route and arrival time information to friends and family.

Bill Gordon

Bill Gordon has been writing on tech and malware subjects for 6 years and has been working in the internet and tech industry for over 15 years. He currently lives in Southern California.

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