A chilling reminder to be safe using Uber

Photo Courtesy of st.falcon.com 

Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old University of South Carolina student, was killed after getting into a car that she mistook for her Uber ride.

Like many college students, Josephson wanted to enjoy her night out and make it home safely. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

“The situation was really scary,” Whitney Wright. a junior English major at Florida A&M, said. “A lot of young girls are put into situations similar to this.”

For many college students, Uber has become a norm. An Uber ride is quicker than the city bus and is usually available at any time of the day or night. Students who may not have reliable transportation usually depend on Uber to get them to places like school and work.

Some may even say an Uber is one of the safer public transportation options.

Unfortunately, following the death of the USC student, the reliability and safety of Uber has been jeopardized.

“People should feel comfortable about their drivers,” Uber driver Adekunle Okuwa said. Okuwa has been driving for Uber for the past two years. He believes that Ubering is a risk to both drivers and passengers.

“(As a driver) I have to secure myself as well.” He says he screens the areas where he decides to pick up customers because, like them, he too wants to be stay safe.

According to Uber.com, before individuals are granted access to drive for the company, they must first go through a “multi-point review of driving history and criminal history.”  The screening checks for moving violations, DUIs, history of violent crimes and felony charges. Qualified drivers must stay in good standing with the law in order to continue driving for the company.

In addition to driver screenings, Uber also randomly asks drivers to take a selfie which is then matched to their on-file identification “to help ensure the right driver is behind the wheel.”

“If you don’t pass the identification match, Uber won’t allow you to drive for that day,” Okuwa said. “This extra step of security can save many lives.”

Uber encourages passengers to do a self-check before entering any car. The self-check includes matching the license plate number, ensuring the car is the right make and model, and also matching the driver with their profile photo. All of these actions should take place outside of the passenger window.

Okuwa believes that passengers should also ask the driver who they are expecting to pick up and check for child locks.

“As a customer, you have the right to do anything that ensures your safety. An extra minute of inspection can be the deciding factor between life and death.”

The Uber app provides safety features like an emergency assistance button to call 9-1-1, if you are in need of help, in addition to GPS tracking and trip sharing to your contacts.

Uber customers should always stay aware of their surroundings and if they feel something isn’t right about their driver, they have the right to decline the ride.

The responsibility for safety falls on both the driver and the passenger.