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How to Prevent Sexual Assault From Rideshare Services

Travelers Today       By    Staff Reporter

Updated: Jan 17, 2020 04:38 AM EST

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How to Prevent Sexual Assault From Rideshare Services

(Photo: Flickr)

There's a great chance that you've used a rideshare service at some point in your life. For some, rideshares are a daily norm that you probably don't think twice about.

Regardless of how often you use rideshares, you should know that there are some legitimate risks to using them! Dangers like sexual assault and robbery have been reported from several unsuspecting riders. 

When you request a rideshare service, you certainly don't expect to get attacked during your ride. Unfortunately, assaults do happen, which is why you need to practice rideshare safety precautions before entering any driver's vehicle!

To help you stay safe, we'll detail a few great ways of avoiding dangerous rideshare situations below.   

Rideshares Are Meant to Be a Safe Alternative

Something that's incredibly unfortunate about rideshares is that they're meant to be a safe alternative. Instead of driving after a night of drinking, rideshares offer someone the ability to get home safely.

Sometimes they turn into the complete opposite. Rather than a quick journey home, rideshares can be a hostile environment where women are assaulted rather than assisted

Problems begin to arise when there is an intoxicated or unconscious passenger. This makes it incredibly difficult for someone to fight off an attacker or even understand what's happening. 

Who Do Predators Target?

With this in mind, there are a few groups of people that are specifically targeted by sexual assaults in rideshares.

The first group is women as a whole. Most attackers are looking for women because many of them are men. They might also view a woman as weaker and easier to dominate. This is not necessarily true, but it speaks to an attacker's mindset.

Beyond this, predatory drivers will seek out those who are unconscious or under the influence. It's a lot simpler for them to have their way with someone when they can't do anything about it.

One last characteristic is that a driver will look for someone riding alone. This turns it into a one-on-one scenario without any witnesses to the assault or anyone there to defend them.  

Try to Avoid Riding Alone

Now that you know who's being targeted, arguably the best piece of advice is to never ride alone.

If a predator is on the prowl, they'll almost always target someone that is riding alone. Something as simple as having another person riding with you can make them change their mind.

As we mentioned above, riding alone means that it's just you and the driver. Attempting to assault one person is difficult enough, but it can be downright impossible to deal with two people at the same time. If a driver does decide to attack anyway, this means that there's two of you to fight them off, call for help, and relate the story to the police.

Sometimes riding with someone else isn't an option for you. If you need to ride alone, then opt for a shared ride. This will mean that the driver might need to pick up other passengers or they may already be inside the car.

There's safety in numbers and this is certainly true when it comes to ridesharing.

Ensure That You Get in the Right Car

Another important tip is to be crystal-clear that you're getting into the right car.

Fake rideshare drivers will prowl in hot pick-up locations posing as a legitimate driver. They might have a commonly driven car and can even have a Lyft or Uber sign on their windshield. 

You need to be positive that the car you're getting into matches the make, model, color, license plate number, and sign color that is shown on your app. Any discrepancy shouldn't be ignored and you're better off requesting another driver. 

There's still the possibility that a legitimate rideshare driving can be a predator, but there's a much higher likelihood that a fake driver will be your downfall.

Verify That You're Traveling to Your Destination

Once you're inside the car, make a point to verify that you're heading to your destination.

The reason for this is because many attackers will typically drive to a different location to carry out their assault. They likely have a predetermined safe area to do this in and don't want to draw any attention to themselves. 

Fortunately, most rideshare apps have a GPS/map function. It will show you where the car is located and what direction it's headed in. If you notice that it isn't going the right way, then something might be off.

One fatal flaw with this is that being inside a predator's vehicle can mean it's too late to escape. They can easily engage the child lock and prevent you from opening the door.

To combat this, rideshares like Lyft and Uber have a panic or emergency button on the app. This will immediately dial 911 and supply them with the vehicle's location, make, model, and license plate number.

This isn't a guaranteed way of preventing an attack, but it provides an emergency solution that might dissuade an attacker if they know that the cops are on their way. Make sure to always have your phone out and watch the GPS to make sure that nothing is going astray.  

Trust Your Gut

One last vital thing to keep in mind is to always trust your gut.

When you're about to enter into a dangerous situation, your mind often somehow knows this. You get an uneasy feeling and it might cause you to hesitate. 

If there's ever anything about a rideshare driver that feels wrong to you, don't get into the car! If the rideshare sign looks fake, the driver looks suspicious, or even if you just have a sixth sense telling you no, listen to it and request another driver.

There's no reason to enter a stranger's vehicle if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Your gut feeling may be correct and refusing a ride can prevent you from being a victim of sexual assault. 

Closing Thoughts

Many rideshare services are safe and conveniently get you to your destination, but a small percentage are not and those are what lead to sexual assault.

Even though rideshares are meant to be a safe alternative, they can create a dangerous environment where anyone can become a victim. Predators typically target women riding by themselves. Those that are intoxicated or unconscious make it easier for an attacker to impose their will.

A few helpful tips for preventing a rideshare sexual assault include riding with a friend (or asking for a shared ride), being positive that you enter the right vehicle, verifying that you're traveling to your destination (and making use of the emergency button if not), and trusting your instincts.

Sometimes a sexual assault by a rideshare driver is entirely out of your control, but many of them are avoidable if you're diligent about practicing rideshare safety precautions. 

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