According to a 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of U.S. adults using ridesharing services increased from 15% in 2015 to 36% in 2018. Rideshare services have become so widely used that in some cities, including New York, calling an Uber ride is more common than hailing a regular taxi.
Uber completed a total of 2.3 billion rides between 2017 and 2018 in the U.S. alone, while Lyft completes an average of 50 million rides per month U.S. and Canada, totaling an estimated 600 million per year.
While the majority of these rides arrive safely at their destinations—and, in general, the most popular rideshare services are overall safe, effective and reliable—a recent survey conducted by DriversEd.com found that a significant portion of rideshare passengers say their drivers have engaged in various risky behind-the-wheel behaviors.
In a survey of 553 adults across the U.S. who reported that they have ridden in an Uber, Lyft or another rideshare service in the past 12 months, DriversEd.com’s Reckless Ridesharing Report found:
- RECKLESS DRIVING: 35% say they have felt their rideshare driver was driving recklessly.
- TEXTING: 29% say they have seen the driver reading or sending texts on their phone.
- SOCIAL MEDIA: 16% say they have seen the driver checking social media on their phone.
- ROAD RAGE: 15% say they have had a driver who got road rage.
- INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR: 13% say they have had a driver who spoke or acted inappropriately.
- IMPAIRED DRIVING: 12% say they have suspected the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- VIDEO WATCHING: 8% say they have seen the driver watching a video on their phone.
Laura Adams, senior safety and education analyst for DriversEd.com, says, “While there are tremendous benefits and conveniences to using rideshare services, there is no getting around the fact that some drivers are engaging in extremely dangerous or potentially deadly behaviors."
Safety Measures and Fatality Statistics
To the credit of Uber and Lyft, both companies do enforce a variety of safety measures that help provide protection for passengers—from driver background checks to GPS tracking to in-app emergency help to driver time limits and more. And while these measures serve an important role, it is inevitable that some incidents and even deaths will occur. According to Uber’s 2019 U.S. Safety report, there were 107 total fatalities in 2017 and 2018 across 97 fatal crashes reported in relation to the Uber app. The Uber-related motor vehicle fatality rate is about half of the national rate.
Steps to Take
If you find yourself in a rideshare vehicle and you feel unsafe, here are steps to take:
- Politely and directly address the issue with your driver. If necessary, end the ride. “If you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle and feel unsafe, say something to the driver,” says Adams. “If the problem persists, end your ride and report the driver to their respective rideshare company. In an urgent or critical situation, contact the authorities."
- Share your trip destination with friends and/or family. Both Uber and Lyft offer in-app safety services. For Uber, riders can use the safety toolkit, which they can access by clicking on the shield icon in the Uber app. This allows riders to share their trip with loved ones, contact 911 and verify the driver’s information. Similarly, Lyft allows riders to share their location and route in real-time with a friend.
- In an emergency, call 911. Both Uber and Lyft have in-app safety options to dial 911 directly. Also, Uber’s Critical Safety Line and Lyft’s Critical Response Line allows riders to speak with a company representative to report the incident and talk about their ride concerns.
- Overall, trust your gut. If you feel something seems “off” about your driver, route, or anything else about your ride, always trust your instincts and take action to address the situation. Put your well-being ahead of your passenger rating. If you are uncomfortable, end the ride and exit the vehicle as soon as it comes to a full stop in a safe area.
- After the ride ends, rate the driver accordingly and report the driver to their company. If you had a less than stellar experience with a driver or something went wrong on your ride, it is important to submit a rating for the driver and share your feedback with the rideshare company. Your feedback may help prevent a similar future incident from occurring with another passenger. If any dangerous or illegal activity took place, contact the authorities.
Additional helpful safety tips, insights, and guidelines—addressing a variety of potential situations and scenarios rideshare passengers may encounter—can be found on the Uber website and at Safety.com.
The survey for DriversEd.com’s Reckless Ridesharing Report was conducted online using Survey Monkey, with rideshare passengers represented by the 553 respondents--of a larger national sample of 1,000 adults--who answered that they have ridden in an Uber, Lyft or other rideshare services in the past 12 months. The national sample of 1,000 adults span across U.S. geographic regions and income levels, and was weighted to reflect the gender distribution and the age distribution across the 18-44 and 45+ age brackets in U.S. census data.