JC Lightcap a RoamRight Blog Author

How to Navigate the Ridesharing Economy

Photo credit: © Stuart Monk | Dreamstime.com

The ridesharing economy is here to stay; technology is bringing people together and making it easier to get around. You may know a few outliers who doubt the system or need a little convincing that hopping in a car with a complete stranger is actually a safe endeavor. But, yet again, technology has found a way to circumvent these worries and provide a safe, convenient, clean and enjoyable experience (usually) at a lower price.

Until recently, I was more inclined to rent a vehicle while traveling for work. Lately, though, I’ve been trying out rideshare services in various cities in the U.S. and overseas. First as an experiment, then I just kept doing it because it was so easy and safer than I had realized.

Note that there are multiple companies providing rideshare services, with more entering the scene as the idea becomes more popular. Not all of the features I mention here are available with all companies; double-check that your provider of choice has the features that are most important to you and best fits your way of getting around.

Why I Love Ridesharing

Have you ever left something in a cab? Good luck getting it back. With most ridesharing services, you have the ability to contact the driver after the ride is over in case you leave something behind.

Also, ridesharing companies offer a route-sharing ability through their mobile applications. This means that someone knows where you are at all times during your ride. A+ for safety!

What You Should Know About Your Driver

Your driver has undergone a DMV check as well as a national and county level criminal background check. Some states even require the driver to pass a medical exam as part of the hiring process. Can you say that about the last person you dated?

What About the Car?

Per Lyft’s website, any Lyft car you jump in has undergone a 19-point vehicle inspection to verify its roadworthiness. According to Uber’s website, do not expect an old clunker either; Uber’s fleet has no models older than 2000, with most vehicles being 2009 or newer. The current industry standard is to insure each vehicle under a one million dollar policy. I also purchase travel insurance whenever I travel to cover any mishaps or incidents because I won’t always be in a heavily insured vehicle.

Still hesitant to give it a try?

Why It’s a Safer Way to Get Around

  • Accountability is a 360-degree review process: You select the car and after the ride review the driver on a five-star scale. This means the driver is going to do whatever they can to make sure you have a positive and safe trip. Drivers must maintain mid to upper 4 stars (depending on the company) to continue working, further ensuring that you have a good driver. Conversely, accountability also means that the driver reviews YOU. Drivers can see your rating and have the option whether or not to accept you as a passenger. If you tend towards being the problem passenger, you may start to notice that no one wants to pick you up.
  • No surprises: The app predicts your fare; lets you know the make, model, and license plate number of the vehicle as you reserve it; and provides a picture of the car and the driver.
  • You have the ability to connect to the driver before they arrive to update them on your location or ask any questions. Say someone sketchy shows up where you’re waiting for your ride: You move to a different spot to put some distance between you and the shady stranger, then text your driver to let them know that you’ve relocated. Easy.
  • You pay the driver directly through the app, resulting in a lower opportunity of being robbed. Riding in a Lyft or Uber car is a cashless transaction.
  • Emergency teams are available 24/7 in case you have an issue.

When I used a ridesharing service in Dallas, I discovered that when your trip is waylaid by heavy traffic and causes GPS rerouting, the service sends you an email to make sure that you authorized and are okay with the car’s detour. I found this to be a fantastic safety measure in case the driver takes you somewhere other than your desired destination. The driver can also email the company to change the fare in case a GPS error takes you off course.

What You Can Do for a Smoother Ride

With respect to safety, I follow the same general rules as when riding in a taxi. From a tech angle: Do not rely solely on your phone’s GPS location to direct your driver to your location. Double-check that the pickup spot is accurate to avoid sending your car on a wild goose chase.

Whether you’re in town for a business meeting, traveling the country on the cheap, or just need a ride home because you cramped up while out for a run (this last one is me, I confess), ridesharing can be the convenient solution. While you might find some that are still uneasy at the prospect, let me assure you that this is here to stay, and for good reason: The safety measures and features that are part of the new ridesharing culture will ensure that your next experience will not only be easy, but safe as well.

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About the Author

JC Lightcap

JC Lightcap, a RoamRight Blog Author Former travel disaster, now a serial traveler, travel safety advisor, and author of The Travel Safety Handbook. Poster boy for learning from others mistakes. Now I provide travelers with the tools to focus on their travel goals; I advise business travelers,prepare study-abroad students and equip families with the knowledge to return home successful with memories that will last a lifetime, not horror stories. Follow JC on his blog at Travel-Safer.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

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