Friday, June 16

Mahlatse Ramatseba

Uber is very dangerous to women 9078 cases open - Here are 9 safety tips to consider

Uber is very dangerous to women -  Here are 9 safety tips to consider

The private-driver service took the country by storm when it was introduced in South Africa in 2013. And like all businesses, it did not come without its challenges. Just this month News24 reported that a UCT student and her friend were allegedly assaulted by their Uber driver. The student, Zuki Lamani, documented their experience on Twitter and the thread went viral.

Here's the thread on what happened:

— Mamfundisi (@Zuki_Lamani) June 2, 2017
Uber responded to her tweets the next day saying what happened was “completely unacceptable” and that they take the safety of their passengers very seriously, while Police Minister, Mbalula Fikile responded saying that the officers called to the scene will be held to account.

These incidents are not synonymous with South Africa. The Guardian reported that more than twenty San Francisco-based Uber drivers were fired this month following a sexual harassment investigation.

Last year, The Sun revealed that Uber drivers were accused of 32 cases of rape and sex attacks on London passengers in 2015, and that this occurred nearly three times per month.

In light of these incidents, here are a few safety measures to implement should you consider making use of an Uber.

Know your driver

The feature on the app allows you to see your driver’s details including their name, vehicle type and license plate number and it also displays their photo. It will ensure you get in the right vehicle with the right driver-partner, yet many passengers fail to check this. Last year, a woman was kidnapped and raped after getting into what she thought was her Uber cab. Of course, sometimes the right driver can be a perpetrator too.

Check your driver's rating

Uber drivers are rated out of five stars by riders on the app’s rating system. If a low rating concerns you, cancel the Uber and request a different one. View the cancellation policy here.

Rate properly and give feedback

That being said, if you happen to have had a terrible experience, don’t leave a three star rating out of guilt or fear that the driver might lose their job. An honest rating will ensure the safety of future riders and telling Uber what happened may prevent another rider's bad experience. Any negative feedback will be queried and followed with appropriate action by Uber’s support team.

Share your trip details

Share your ETA (estimated time of arrival) with a friend or family member. All you need to do is tap on “share status” in the app to share a link where they can see your driver’s name, photo, license plate and where the vehicle is on the map. This can be tracked even if they don’t have the app installed on their phone.

Use Uber's 24/7 support channels

Uber has customer support staff that is ready to assist with any queries. They also have rapid response, specially-trained teams that are available full-time to handle any urgent concerns that may arise.

Cancel the ride if you feel uncomfortable

This might sound like a bit of a cliché, but always trust your gut. If the driver seems dodgy in any way feel free to end the ride. Always sit in the back seat and keep your belongings close by in case you need to end the ride abruptly.

CNBC reported in April this year that Uber (California) may face a $1 million fine over drunken-driving complaints. Similar incidents of drunken driving have allegedly occurred in South Africa in the past.

Keep a protective device or pepper spray on you

Be extra cautious. I took my first Uber this month and after reading several frightening Uber-related incidents over the years, I carried my stun gun with me. It always gives me a stronger sense of security. Pepper spray is also an effective method for self-defense. Takealot stocks both the pepper spray and stun gun for under R200.

Use Uber’s latest safety-selfie feature

This feature was introduced in March this year and uses facial recognition technology to enhance safety for both Uber drivers and riders.

Be aware of your surroundings

Although you should keep your eyes on the app to check that the driver abides by the route on the map, it is also crucial that you be mindful of your surroundings. Always ensure that your phone’s battery is charged and that you have sufficient airtime or data in case of an emergency.

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