Rideshar­ing safety tips

The Calvert Recorder - Southern Maryland Automotive Trends - - News -

Rideshar­ing is a growing trend among trav­el­ers from all walks of life. Some pro­po­nents sup­port the con­cept be­cause they feel it’s an eco-friendly means of trav­el­ing, while oth­ers find it’s a great way to save money. Still oth­ers em­ploy third-party rideshar­ing ser­vices as a re­spon­si­ble, af­ford­able way to travel when go­ing out for a night on the town.

With a greater num­ber of peo­ple shar­ing rides and in­ter­act­ing with strangers than ever be­fore, safety while rideshar­ing is an is­sue to take se­ri­ously. While rideshar­ing trips of­ten oc­cur with­out in­ci­dent, there have been some in­stances of vi­o­lent al­ter­ca­tions in­volv­ing driv­ers and pas­sen­gers. For ex­am­ple, in Fe­bru­ary 2016, a driver from Kala­ma­zoo, Mich., while work­ing for a pop­u­lar rideshar­ing ser­vice, ad­mit­ted to killing six peo­ple af­ter go­ing on a shoot­ing ram­page.

Ac­cord­ing to the Taxi­cab, Limou­sine and Para­tran­sit As­so­ci­a­tion, rideshar­ing com­pa­nies use a back­ground check ser­vice to con­firm crim­i­nal con­vic­tions and to make sure driv­ers are legally able to drive. How­ever, these ser­vices may not per­form FBI fin­ger­print­ing checks con­ducted by law en­force­ment of­fi­cials, whereas taxi driv­ers are sub­jected fin­ger­print­ing. So some rideshar­ing driv­ers who have com­mit­ted crimes in the past but have never been caught may pass rideshar­ing back­ground checks, but they might not pass tests that taxi com­pa­nies would in­sist they sub­mit to, such as fin­ger­print­ing tests.

While rideshar­ing, whether it en­tails car­pool­ing or us­ing an es­tab­lished rideshar­ing ser­vice, can be con­ve­nient, pas­sen­gers must take steps to en­sure their own safety when shar­ing rides.

• Con­firm in­sur­ance cov­er­age. All driv­ers need to be in­sured in case of an ac­ci­dent. Pas­sen­gers are well within their rights to re­quest proof of cur­rent in­sur­ance be­fore agree­ing to car­pool.

• Con­firm ve­hi­cle main­te­nance and in­spec­tions. Pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als and some smaller rideshar­ing ser­vices drive fewer hours per week than many taxi com­pa­nies. That means per­sonal ve­hi­cles may be in bet­ter shape than taxis. Driv­ers must main­tain their ve­hi­cles and have them in­spected ac­cord­ing to lo­cal reg­u­la­tions. Pas­sen­gers can ask to see ser­vice records and should only ac­cept rides in ve­hi­cles that ap­pear to be in good re­pair.

• Con­firm the driver and car be­fore trav­el­ing. Be­fore ac­cept­ing a ride from a rideshar­ing ser­vice, pas­sen­gers should con­firm that the driver, ve­hi­cle and li­cense plate num­ber matches the no­ti­fi­ca­tion that has been sent through the ser­vice’s app. Pas­sen­gers also can track the progress of the car’s ar­rival. All details should be ver­i­fied be­fore step­ping into the rideshar­ing ve­hi­cle.

• Ride in the back seat. Many of the crim­i­nal in­ci­dents as­so­ci­ated with rideshar­ing have in­volved pas­sen­gers rid­ing in the front seat next to the driver. Main­tain a safe dis­tance by rid­ing in the back, which en­ables pas­sen­gers to exit the ve­hi­cle more read­ily.

• Ride with a friend. Safety comes in num­bers, so don’t hes­i­tate to share rides with friends or close col­leagues if you are wor­ried about rid­ing alone.

• Avoid cash ex­changes. Many rideshar­ing ser­vices au­to­mat­i­cally charge rides to pas­sen­gers’ credit cards. Chipin ar­range­ments for other car­pool­ing can be made via Pay­Pal or other meth­ods that do not in­volve cash. Avoid get­ting in a car with a driver who asks to be paid in cash.

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