Every so often, the world wakes up to horrible news. Sometimes it’s a terrorist attack, sometimes it’s a natural disaster, and most recently it was the tragic death of University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson. She did something that almost every college student has done.
She was out with friends in a popular nightlife area when she got separated from her roommates and decided to head home instead of stick around alone in a bar. Josephson called an Uber and climbed into the car that she thought belonged to her driver. Instead, he ended up being her killer. Her friends reported her missing and authorities found her dead within 24 hours. With this being the reality of the world we live in, you may ask yourself (as a parent), should I let my college student ride in an Uber or Lyft?
After hearing stories about riders who are missing, end up assaulted, or are killed when ridesharing, it is easy to want to “ban” your college-aged child from using these services. However, both Uber and Lyft operate with ride safety in mind and want to prevent any incidents like Josephson’s at all costs. One way they do this is by screening all their drivers and looking at driving and criminal history as well as drug-related offenses. Drivers must also remain in good standing while driving for the companies.
Another way they do this is by providing the driver’s information in the app, and encouraging riders to check it before they ever set foot in the car. Making sure the license plate number matches, the car’s make and model matches, and the driver’s photo matches are all ways to ensure that it’s a safe situation.
Furthermore, drivers know the passengers who they are picking up by name and should be able to repeat that name to the rider before one enters the car. Josephson’s family is currently encouraging the “What’s my name?” campaign to prompt riders to double check that their driver knows who they are before they get in the car. As long as you or your child hasn’t revealed your name first, this will ensure that your driver is truly who they say they are.
As a parent, you want to make sure that you prepare your child for any unknown situations. Ridesharing is an invention that makes it easy for young people to get around, and there are plenty of dangers to not using it. Crimes happen to individuals who are walking, using cabs, using public transportation, driving themselves, etc. It’s up to you to ensure that your child knows how to engage in behaviors safely. Tragedies are a learning experience, so make sure that you talk to your child about them instead of just prohibiting them from using ridesharing in the future altogether.
How do you help? Make sure they know that they should be checking the license plate, car make and model, and the driver photo. It should become second nature for them to ask, “Who are you picking up?” or “What’s my name?” Instead of, “Picking up for Matt?” or “Picking up for Olivia?” Just like you taught your child to be weary of strangers offering them candy in a white van when they were little, this is another way you can teach them to be cautious in the everyday world.
Scary events happen in the world every single day and measuring Uber and Lyft against other transportation options really depend on the area where you live. That said, when utilizing the correct safety precautions, it is more than okay for college students to use Uber and Lyft. There are risks to any service and proceeding with the proper safeguards in place can ensure that your student stays safe. For more information on the best way to travel in your area (Uber, Lyft, taxi, limo, etc.), check out RideGuru’s Fare Comparison Calculator or ask a question on our forum.