Violent Crime and Uber Drivers:

Personal Injuries

How to Stay Safe When Your Ride Arrives

Earlier this year, Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student, was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by a man posing as an Uber driver. What began as a fun night out with friends ended with a body dumped in a rural area. Authorities charged Nathaniel David Rowland with the brutal act after they say Josephson mistakenly entered his vehicle, believing he was an Uber driver, shortly after 2 a.m.


Josephson’s story serves as a cautionary tale for anybody who relies on rideshare services like Uber. And a ride doesn’t need to end in death for disaster to strike. Per a CNN investigation in April of 2018, at least 103 Uber drivers in the United States have been accused of abusing or sexually assaulting their passengers.


Uber passengers who fail to take appropriate safety precautions before hitching a ride put themselves at risk of falling victim to crimes like these. It’s crucial to take steps to ensure that any individual who claims to be an Uber driver is legitimate and trustworthy. While it’s never a victim’s fault if somebody chooses to harm them, rideshare users can take precautions to decrease the likelihood of tragedy. If you or someone you know has already been a victim of a Uber related incident speak with a Uber incident personal injury attorney about your legal options.


Can You Tell if Your Uber Driver Is Legitimate?

Take whatever steps you can to protect yourself if you rely on rideshare services. Unfortunately, Uber riders can’t read their drivers’ minds, and it’s possible to ride with a legitimate Uber driver and still fall victim to assault. With that in mind, riders can drastically decrease their chances of running into trouble by ensuring they only enter vehicles driven by legitimate drivers.


It only takes a few moments to increase your sense of safety before stepping into an Uber. Every rider should check the Uber app and take the following steps before each ride:

  • Be sure that the license plate number of the vehicle and the license plate number the Uber app provides match
  • Match the car’s make and model to the information provided by Uber, as well
  • Check the driver’s photo on the app to make sure that the person picking you up appears to be the person in the picture


Uber’s Driver Screening Process

Uber works hard to ensure that drivers are safe and trustworthy. The company implements a background check process through a third-party provider called Checkr. This background check includes a detailed review of each driver’s criminal and driving history. Each potential driver’s moving violations and drug- or violence-related crimes are flagged immediately.


Drivers who qualify for the job via this screening process are still held to ongoing safety standards. Each driver is required to remain in good standing with the law and has their criminal and motor vehicle checks re-run on an annual basis. The company also employs specialized technology to be updated when drivers are charged with new offenses. If this occurs, the driver’s access to the app is removed.


How Uber Works to Keep Riders Safe

Uber does more to promote rider safety than just screening their drivers. They also utilize technology that helps keep riders’ personal information private and protected. These efforts help to hold drivers accountable and keep riders safe.


Many Uber riders find that they need to call or message their drivers with additional pickup instructions. In these cases, Uber’s systems automatically anonymize your phone number to protect your privacy. Even your pickup and dropoff locations become masked as soon as your ride is over. That means your driver won’t be able to delve into their trip history to find out where you entered or exited their vehicle.


Riders can also activate an in-app Emergency Button if urgent help becomes necessary. After the button is tapped, the Uber app presents you with your current location and vehicle information. This makes communicating with emergency responders easier.


Safety teams at Uber regularly partner with law enforcement and a safety advisory board to help inform their safety efforts. Civil rights, road safety, and women’s safety experts and advocates all offer the company critical advice. Uber also employs a team of former law enforcement professionals. This task force can offer riders assistance during active cases.


Guidelines for Staying Safe

Uber offers riders a set of safety tips designed to help mitigate the likelihood of coming to harm during a ride. Uber developed the following tips in collaboration with law enforcement to help keep riders safe:

  1. Request your ride indoors to minimize time spent alone outside
  2. Double-check your ride by verifying the vehicle’s make, model, and license plate; make sure your driver resembles their driver photo, too
  3. Wait for your driver to confirm your name to ensure that they’re using the Uber app
  4. Sit in the back seat whenever possible to allow more exit space
  5. Tell somebody else that you’re using Uber and share details about your ride and driver
  6. Trust your instincts and remain kind and respectful to keep tensions low


Samantha Josephson’s story illustrates the importance of prioritizing safety anytime you choose to use Uber. If, after taking all of the above precautions, you still feel that you may be at risk after entering an Uber, never hesitate to contact emergency services and inform your loved ones about your concerns and your whereabouts. It could prove to be the difference between life and death.


Unfortunately, Uber riders may fall victim to predatory drivers or instances of assault despite taking appropriate precautions. That’s why it’s important to seek the advice of a legal professional who can help you understand your rights and help you build a case if your Uber driver abused, assaulted, or otherwise harmed you during a ride. If you or a loved one were the victim of an assault during an Uber ride, contact a personal injury lawyer can answer your questions and help hold the liable parties accountable.