They Thought It Was Their Uber. But the Driver Was a Predator.

A South Carolina college student was killed last weekend by a man posing as a ride-share driver, the police said. Across the country, women have reported dozens of similar attacks in recent years.

Comments: 242

  1. While it might cost more, I still try to respect the taxi and hotel workers and prefer to call a real cab with proper identification and meter, and to check in to a hotel licensed by the local government with a front desk. Not just the situations here with imposter ride share drivers, but what happens if that ride share vehicle is involved in a no fault crash? What if the airbnb has bedbugs or other health dept. issues? There are just too many things that we come to expect with rides or overnight stays that are not covered by these business models even though they work so neatly with phone apps.

  2. @Sara My loyalty to cab drivers extends back over 40 years when I was an owner/operator. In my current town I stayed loyal to the local cab company regarded to be the best, or perhaps more accurately, the least worst. Increasingly I experienced dirty cars, long waits, obnoxious and dangerous drivers, and completely unresponsive management. I now regularly take Lyft. They are a little more expensive, but they rarely take more than a few minutes to arrive, the cars are clean and often stocked with water and snacks, the drivers are friendly, polite, respectful, and reliable. And they help me with my groceries. And I can tell you for a fact that Lyft drivers and vehicles are better screened and maintained than cabs. I never have to pull out my wallet. Bottom line, I'm a convert. As a qualifier, I have had much different experience in other cities, particularly with Uber. In Houston an Uber driver took me $40 out of the way and the only way I got a refund was to challenge the charge with my bank. Uber also has a policy allowing them to put a bank hold on the estimated charge for three days beyond receipt of payment. I would also not be likely to use Uber in LA, NYC, NOLA, or Austin for various reasons, although I might give Lyft a chance. Regarding hotels, in my experience they also run the gamut, licensed or not. Research advised.

  3. @Bill Things are different for female riders (apologize if I'm wrong on your name). I've had some scary taxi rides from bad drivers, but the intense regulations that exist for cabs in many cities guarantees better safety in my book.

  4. @Rose Anne I'm not sure which females you're referring to, but given the fact that most of the females I know can defend themselves better than I can your statement strikes me as a rather demeaning generalization, especially coming from a woman. And I don't know which "many cities" you're referring to, but I know for a fact that in "many cities" just about anyone can get a hack license, especially if they own their own cab, and the vehicle regulation standards are rather lax. The exceptions, also in my experience, are very large cities where most of the drivers tend to be immigrants, who are fairly closely scrutinized before they are even allowed to work and live in this country, and whom I prefer to many Americans because they tend to be well-educated and the conversation is likely to be culturally enlightening. Also, many of them are owner/operators who take pride in their vehicles and support their families with the income. The last time I was in LA, for example, a driver I rode with put two children through college on the income, which I imagine would be difficult with poor customer service.

  5. Besides asking the driver if they know your name, always look for the license plate number. Lyft always shares it in the app. But most of my friends and I know better to not use Uber. And I do try to support cabs when in NYC, but it’s often hard to find one at night, even using the app Curb.

  6. @fouxdafafa Uber also shares the license plate number, as well as the driver’s name, and even a photo of the driver. I think you should have the facts in order before you post something like that. Both Uber and Lyft are in the exact same league.

  7. @Austin I was only posting my experience and offering a suggestion. However, Uber has had more assaults than Lyft (it's in the article), and no one in my circle trusts it.

  8. Waiting for my Uber in Prague to take me to the airport for a very early morning flight, I was offered a ride by a vehicle that did not match the one I was expecting. My expected ride was late at that point, so I requested proof from the driver that he was in fact an official ride share driver. He provided evidence and my son and I got in the car and were taken to the airport safely. There are some measures in place to minimize risk, but youth and intoxication are a dangerous combination when it comes to reason. I'm so sorry for her family.

  9. As a parent of 2 college students, I am horrified by this. Many states do not require front license plates which then requires the rider to go around back to verify their ride. One more step that a rider might be too lazy to do. The stickers and light up signs seem to be easy to obtain by anyone who wants one. I have stressed to my kids about asking the driver his/her name and asking who they are there to pick up instead of offering out their name. The only other helpful idea that I have seen lately is a requiring a QR code sticker on the car that could be scanned by the app to ensure the car you are getting into is indeed the correct one. Seems like an easy and inexpensive way to help ensure rider safety.

  10. I rarely use these services and never when alone...and always check car/plates. However, a way to mitigate this problem, would be to allow women to have an option to choose a female driver. You might have to wait a little longer for your car, but the decrease in anxiety and increase in safety should make up for that.

  11. time to make uber and lyft identifiable as medallion taxis

  12. The OLA Ride sharing service in India requires an OTP to be entered by the driver for the ride to begin. This OTP is delivered on the app to the requester. I know that this is my ride when the driver enters the pin and is accepted. Why cant Uber and Lyft and others follow the same?

  13. This is why there used to be marked, numbered, badged taxi cabs. Face it, the smart phone is killing us.

  14. When you order an Uber, the license plate of the car shows up on your phone. Right? So, please, never get into a car unless the license plate matches the license plate on the Uber order. And then, ask the driver for your name BEFORE you get into the car.

  15. There are precautions that can be taken. When I order an Uber I follow its course on my phone app and know exactly when it is supposed to appear. Also the drivers themselves often call out "Are you ------?" A phony driver wouldn't know my name.

  16. @Charlesbalpha I once had an Uber driver ask to see my phone to verify that I was the correct passenger. Evidently, some people try to steal a ride but just saying, "That's me!" to whatever name the driver calls out!

  17. Despite Uber and Lyft spending several millions to tell us otherwise in an ad campaign, Austin voters decided a couple of years ago to regulate Uber and Lyft drivers by requiring them to be fingerprinted and their names searched in the police database. These two companies left our city for almost a year. Uber and Lyft than buttered up the Texas GOP, who then decided that Austin's desire to regulate these drivers was illegal. Rape and murder are going to continue to happen with these ride sharing companies (or people pretending to be drivers) until this entire industry is regulated to protect users from harm.

  18. Uber and Lyft should allow women to request female drivers. That would be the best way to ensure safety.

  19. There was a crew pulling the same robberies here in one of the nightlife areas. Pull up in front of a bar, let someone who'd been drinking convince themself without verifying that Of Course this is the car for me. Then they're robbed. Because they made a stupid assumption instead of verifying before they got in the car. Remember the pre-Uber advice from police and other public safety experts? If being robbed on the street, don't fight, just hand over the valuables. If robber tries getting you into a vehicle, THEN fight. Now we have people delivering themselves into the vehicle without the criminals even having to put the car in park.

  20. Why not just include a photo of your driver? Personally it's a lot easier for me to recognize a face than the make or model of a car.

  21. @Heather They do. But I find that's the hardest thing to verify because people have different hair styles, take bad photos, etc. The best thing to verify is the license plate. It's not hard to recognize the make of a car, either, if you know what the symbols look like.

  22. Yes, check always the license number. When in a cab, I always make a real or simulated phone call saying: I am now in cab number or with driver number blah, blah, blah (it is posted in the taxi) so driver knows that someone is aware that I am in his ( always a “his”) vehicle.

  23. The demise of the yellow cab with the medallion have resulted in this. Anyone with a car can become an Uber or Lyft driver. Not nearly enough regulation in place. Save the $50, I'll pull the switch on that animal that killed this beautiful young woman.

  24. Hey I have an idea - we could paint the cars bright yellow so they look really distinctive and can't be mistaken for just anybody's car. We could put the companies name on the door and then we could put a permanently installed, brightly lit sign on the top - it could say something unmistakable like "RIDE" or "CARRIER" or something like that... Anybody think that might work?

  25. The other side of this, and apparently it doesn't happen much, is that the real Uber and Lyft drivers are letting strangers into their cars. It seems like female drivers could be particularly vulnerable.

  26. Passenger and driver get a passcode from Uber/Lyft when reservation is made. Driver has to tell passenger the passcode before passenger gets in the car. Why isn't this simple security safegaurd already in place?

  27. @T H If the passenger can't be bothered to look at the copious amount of information already provided about the car and driver for verification, are they going to wait for a passcode? I find it mind-boggling that people are just randomly jumping into cars without even checking the color or anything else when they have that info.

  28. I ask all my women friends and colleagues: "do you hitch hike?" "Of course not, its really dangerous" Well, every time you get into an Uber, Lyft or anything driven by a stranger -- you are hitch hiking.

  29. I’m sure all your women friends and colleagues are very grateful to you for explaining this to them.

  30. The risks of Uber and other ride-share companies were foreseeable and foreseen. The cowboy culture that denies the role of the State in protecting consumers makes possible the pillage, the rape and the murder.

  31. This is a terrifying thought. Maybe ask who are you waiting for? Don’t give out any information, as you would not do on a phone call... let them state their business.

  32. I had the opposite experience. I was to drive a friend on a dinner date. Just as soon as I pulled up in front of her apartment building a large young man opened my car door and got in. I thought I was being car jacked. I started shouting No! No! No! He got without a word and stood on the curb. I doubt the description of his ride matched my late model luxury car. Apparently he thought he was entitled to the first car that came along when he was ready to go.

  33. @Alma P My Dad gave me some advice that may help in some situations. He told me to always drive with my doors locked, which I do, until I leave my car. He had a guy jump in his car in the late 70's, when stopped for a red light. The guy was big and scary looking and fortunately only demanded a ride from my Dad.

  34. Uber and Lyft, you deserve "public safety credit" for keeping intoxicated individuals away from steering wheels. Now it's time to protect the compromised riders themselves by building a driver-knows-my-name confirmation into the pre-ride sequence.

  35. I’m a woman. I’ve survived 74 years without Uber. It seems logical that one of the ways I can survive longer is - without Uber.

  36. Instead of a changing color sign (I'm color blind), how about displaying a 3 digit numerical code to match one provided to the riders cell phone app?

  37. @Guinness How about the license plate number, which is an existing code directly attached to the car that appears in the rider's app already?

  38. Never give the driver your name first. Ask for his/her name instead. Always check the license plate and make of the car against the Uber info before getting into the vehicle. How sad it is to have to live in a constant state of vigilance.

  39. Uber and Lyft give you the license plate number of the car picking you up It should be noted that in NYC Ubers and Lyfts fall under the Taxi & Limousine Commission So you know the car must have TLC plates. This already adds a level of safety In Florida there are only license plates on the back of the car, making it harder to check the plate than in states like NY that are front and back. Riders should always check the plates to see they match what the app says.

  40. Why don't females insist on a female driver responding? End of problem. I remember hitch hiking a lot in Southern California when I was a teen but it was always daylight and even then I had the sense to know there were dangers and to read the driver very carefully as he pulled over. I actually remember backing out of an offer one time. The guy seemed really creepy. John Poole.

  41. @Erin at this time the companies don’t let you do that

  42. The companies don’t let you back out of a ride? Just walk away and dispute the $5 fee for a cancelled ride.

  43. @Jean Sims You have to wonder why not...the female drivers will make a fortune and the male drivers will lose income! Maybe some smart woman will create an all-female car service.

  44. If you called for a yellow cab and a blue sedan pulls up claiming they are your taxi ride, would you jump in? I'm no defender or Uber, but the bottom line is that I can see a photo of the driver, a license plate on the car in addition to the uber sign in the window (which does little for me because that could be easily stolen) before I get in the car. Why do I check these things? Because when I take Uber or Lyft at airports/cities there are lots of cars arriving and I need to figure out which one is mine. But it is very easy. This is a tragedy. But the lesson to be learned is to use the built in safety and security elements when using Uber. I may not know who is driving a yellow cab or if the license and paperwork is valid - you can photo copy them. But I generally feel I know more about the Uber driver than the yellow cab.

  45. @T Mo actually, the opposite is true. You are much safer with an identifiable taxi drive than a random moonlighting ride share driver.

  46. This happens to young women far more often than is reported. I had a similar situation in 2016 in Washington, D.C. waiting for an Uber on Wisconsin Ave. (in a well-lit, wealthy area). As my Uber X was supposed to arrive, a civilian black car pulled up like clockwork, rolled down the window and said he was my ride. As I was about to open the door and get in, something didn't feel right. I hesitated and checked my app to make sure it was my car. He became increasingly insistent that he was my ride and he can give me a ride to wherever I want to go. Thankfully I realized he wasn't an Uber driver and politely declined his ride. Unfortunately, at the time, I didn't know this was a growing problem and didn't know how to report it. Predatory drivers ARE scanning the sidewalks seeking women waiting for Ubers, even in areas you wouldn't expect.

  47. To be safe taking a rideshare, one must always check the license plate number against that presented in the app. I do this every time and I’m over six two circa 185 lbs. The truth of US society is that it is in all sectors partially compsosed of predators (of many types). One has to take time and exert caution against financial, psychological - and here - physical predators.

  48. This is horrifying. But while the article casts this as a problem about ride-sharing apps and bad individuals, this story is more fundamentally about violent men preying on women - which, as the NYT article on female solo travelers a few days ago showed, is a threat to women everywhere. We URGENTLY need to recognize male violence as one of our most pressing problems, a better understanding of its causes, and programs aimed at curbing it.

  49. @Laura: I strongly disagree with your comment that the article should be about "violent men preying on women". You blindly generalized all men to be violent. I hope you don't believe that your grandfathers, father, sons, brothers, and male friends are all dangers to women. You also spun the article's intent. The author did not pursue your spin about "violent men", because presumably he knows men better than you do. The article IS RIGHTLY only about "ride-sharing apps and bad individuals" who assault customers. The article started with Ms. Josephson's case, and didn't reveal cases of men assaulted when they also naively enter a stranger's car. Such cases occur. Yet shame & social stigma make men rarely report such crimes. Under-reporting makes the problem APPEAR to be mostly with women, and it hides cases of men from media. The REAL problem is of BOTH women AND men attacked. Before entering a stranger's car, please review safety info already sent to your Uber app. Never naively enter a stranger's car! Take responsibility for our safety! We all must - men and women! You harmfully create hysteria, and victimize/debase ALL MEN as violent. The truth is, out of all men, a tiny fraction commit such crimes. And also, a tiny fraction of women commit crimes (even violent crimes). Please don't prejudicially accuse men of being bad. Don't assume men are bad. The majority of men are INHERENTLY GOOD people. You have victimized and debased every one of the good men, who help women.

  50. Always check the license plate. Unfortunately the drivers themselves don't want to ask if you're the right person first because they've heard stories of people trying to scam a free ride by pretending to be the passenger. Uber needs to address this... the driver should give some signal (name or destination) so you know who it is before you get in the car.

  51. @Haiku R I have only taken one solo Uber ride. I don’t have the app, and at the last minute my friend could not pick me up at the airport as planned. Instead he ordered Uber for me (that city had no taxis). He forwarded me the ID info, and texted both me and the driver each a safe word. When the driver arrived he pulled up in the 2nd lane from the curb about 25 feet ahead of me (so license plate easily visible), got out of his car, and said “Are you Not-Bradley?” (friend’s name). I said “Why do you ask?” As I was checking the license plate, he gave me his safe word, I responded with mine, and we both were comfortable. Only then did he come within reach and offer to lift my luggage into the trunk. It turned out my friend had also texted the driver what I was wearing (luckily not generic black!) so the driver had a good idea whom to pull up near.

  52. This is difficult as while not all of the prospective passengers have been out drinking or are intoxicated,many are, especially if the fake drivers are out looking for their prey in front of popular nightspots, on weekend nights etc. So you combine the vulnerability of someone, often a lone woman, who has been drinking, with a predator and the results aren't pretty. I don't think light-up signs, decals etc will work as these will just get purchased on the internet etc. Obviously a NYC "yellow cab" is highly visible as to identity but small easily obtained insignia will be easily faked or sold. I think the only thing that will work will be for the ride share company to have to send the passenger who hailed the ride a code that the driver will have to display to the passenger. If it matches, this is your ride. Otherwise, don't get in the car. This does require situational awareness however, on the part of the prospective passenger which means they have to be awake, aware and alert enough to be functional. As for the passengers's friends, maybe we need some sort of ditty along the lines of "friend's don't let friend's drive drunk" that will remind them they need to help their impaired friends stay safe.

  53. Here is another horror story: A friend got into an Uber with her daughter. Then, before the car started moving, a homeless woman got into the car. My friend was familiar with this woman, who had, moments before, asked my friend for money and food. My friend gave her some food but no money. After the woman got in, the driver pulled away from the curb, assuming the three riders were together. My friend immediately tried to explain to the driver that the woman was not a part of her group. The woman also soon began to speak, and it became increasingly clear that she had some serious mental issues, and did not know where she wanted to go. My friend and her daughter made it home safely, but were a bit traumatized by the experience. Meanwhile, my friend does not know where the driver ultimately deposited the homeless woman. In my town, the only taxi company went out of business a year or so ago. The buses run on limited routes and sometimes break down. I have no car and no smart phone and have never used Lyft or Uber. I would rather bicycle. Welcome to the wonderful world of transportation in the 21st century.

  54. I have not had a scary incident but I did have a young woman get into my car once when I was waiting to pick up my daughter. My generation was taught never to get in a car with a stranger and I was shocked at how easily she mistook my car for an Uber - and unfazed she was when she realized her mistake.

  55. Why would I ever get into a car driven by an independent operator? Because the taxi system provided a system of control that doesn't exist with private car shares. This was bound to happen and tomorrow it will happen again. I pity the poor woman, and it will be a woman, to whom this happens.

  56. “On busy streets outside bars or clubs, people often hop into a car without a second thought.” I think I see a problem here.

  57. The Uber app always displays the license plate number and make/model/color of the vehicle assigned to you. I always confirm these identifying characteristics before getting into an Uber car.

  58. Always check to see that the license plate of the car matches the plate in the app on your phone. If it does not, do not get in the car. This event is 100% avoidable with mere seconds of user effort. Take care of yourselves.

  59. Why not as soon as your ride stops to pick you up have the driver text the rider that he is here. It sounds silly but in a busy place or when distracted, you would at least be clear its your car. Something like hop in I'm right here, or some automated message. Yes the map is there but folks ignore that and text privately, so a new text is a gentle reminder. I am guessing if intoxicated, reading a licence plate might be tough. Also could Uber and Lyft encourage or even increase incentives for women drivers who pick up women in the night? The latter would be a much safer scenario.

  60. @Meena VIA (a shared ride service in NYC and other cities) does just this. In addition to getting the driver's name, plate number and photo on the app, you get several texts -- one as a 2 minute head's up that the driver is on the way, the other when the driver arrives. The text notes the color make and model of the vehicle, license plate number and driver's name. This secondary check seems like it would be easy for Lyft/Uber to implement. The 2 minute warning is triggered by GPS (and is rarely that accurate), the arrival text is triggered when the driver swipes the app after reaching the destination.

  61. @Meena On the apps, you can watch your car arrive on the map they provide, and you are notified that the ride is there. Already solved.

  62. Buried in this story is something obvious to anyone who's used Uber: when a car is on the way, your phone shows you the license plate number of the car (along with lots of other ID info about the car and driver.) To stay safe, you check the license number of the car before you get in. It's that simple. There's no need for a law for cars to have Uber signs. Most of the cars already have them, but they're for marketing, not safety. Anyone can fake them. I realize the impulse to call for laws in the hope of increasing safety, but in this case it's misguided. Uber already has the best solution for the problem. It's the consumers who need to be more careful.

  63. @Peter Blau There are times when I have approached and even opened the door of another car that looks like my standard Japanese mid-size sedan. So asking tired, slightly drunk people to match the plate number on a small phone with a plate that in some states is only on the back of the car is a challenge. Rideshare is valuable but risky because of the difficulty to enforce training and rules. A friend was severely injured in an Uber accident because the driver did not know the local highway entrances. I was advised to use a rideshare app on a business trip. I had mixed results but no disasters. But the last ride had a livery license, which local law required. Nobody else followed that law.

  64. @Peter Blau Easier said than done in crowded night time situations - with out stepping into oncoming traffic - two factor id is the way to go

  65. @gammagirl @LOST IN THOUGHT "Rideshare is risky" - my response is riskier than what? Taxis present the same problem of imperfectly screened drivers, but without Uber's technology to describe car and driver in advance. As for two factor ID, Uber already has multiple factors: make and color of car, driver's name and photo...even the driver's cellphone#. What's inherently risky is leaving a bar after drinking. Nothing is going to make that trip home perfectly safe, but an Uber definitely beats walking -- and, even more so, driving -- home on your own.

  66. The Uber app could not make it safer for a rider to verify the correct vehicle: you have the make and model of the car, and the license plate number, AND the driver's name. Rather than asking the driver, "Are you waiting for (insert your name)? the question should be: "Who are you here to pick up?" If it is the Uber driver s/he will have your name. If they cannot produce it, it is not your driver. It's a crazy world, and sometimes technology can help us or it can hurt us. We should not assume anything. Use the safeguards technology gives us; have a plan if something goes horribly wrong; stop looking at your i-phone and pay attention to what's going on around you. This is not rocket science.

  67. @Len Blaming the victim does nothing to help prevent this sort of crime.

  68. @AliceP I am not blaming the victim in the least. But we all have to take some responsibility for our own safety, and common sense usually prevails. In police work there is a maxim: if it's predictable, it's preventable. We all need to be more aware of our surroundings and listen to our instincts.

  69. In my case above, in the same neighborhood as the story of another commenter here, it appears the app was hacked by my driver, who knew my name. The issue is how to report this immediately to the ride share company. At present, there is no method available. Hackers will be able to victimize a greater number of drunk clients. I was lucky that I was sober at the time of my incident, but I can see the worse- and worst-case scenarios happening and to come. In the dark after midnight, makes and models of vehicles can easily be mistaken. Only the license plates will tell the truth. If you are sober enough to read! It can be hard to match a photo with a face in the dead of night. Impaired clients (the people we actually want in ride shares, because they are not posing a greater danger to society by driving under the influence!) will fall prey in greater numbers. Ride share companies should address the hacking problem and should invite riders to give them instant feedback on the location of the incident.

  70. Don’t even have a conversation. Uber gives you the driver’s license plate when the ride is confirmed. Check that before approaching the car.

  71. @Andrew Manitsky Hmm - easier said than done I've noticed, in crowded night time situations (with out stepping into oncoming traffic that is).

  72. Uber provide detailed information about the car model, with a driver's picture showing up on the app. Basic street smart in a big city, not to mention the Sin City, people.

  73. Asking the rideshare driver to confirm the name of the person they are waiting for sounds like a pretty ineffective safety tip. There are a million ways to learn someone's name, from stalking inside the bar, to hearing a friend yell "Good night, outside. ...and just like spam email, when your Dad says, but how would they know I have an account with there are always easy random guesses.

  74. why does it have to be scary to be a woman? what is wrong with men? sometimes, I just wish there was a state of just women, that would suit me just fine. I could shop at night, walk and run in the early morning alone, how much more carefree. anyone interested?

  75. @RC Most men are socialized to respect women and behave properly. This is called being a gentleman, rather than a boor. Fortunately, there are more gentlemen than boors. But you should live in the real world in which hetero males are designed by Nature to seek access to a female. If you wish to take your chances of encountering a boor when you go out at night and run alone in the early morning, learn self-defense. It works.

  76. People are animals and behave in a normal curve with standard deviation. There will always be 1% or .1% that will be violent even in the most evolved society.

  77. @RC Sorry to say, but horrible people come in all kinds.

  78. The Lyft or Uber App on the passenger's phone should display a random 4 digit code, which should also be displayed as a lighted or LED display on the front and back windows of the car, alongside the Lyft or Uber signage. That is a positive two factor identification, in addition to the car model that is displayed. This should be so easy to do for the companies, not sure why it is not done.

  79. @Pillai I agree that that code system or other verification procedure would be helpful and not to difficult to implement, but just seems more and more impossible to be able to accomodate people who are just completely unable to function in the modern world.

  80. @Pillai Corporate profits and stock valuations first; safety last. Nice people.

  81. @Pillai Or riders could verify license plate numbers and the driver's photo on the apps before they get in.

  82. The system needs two-factor authorization, like texting and matching a code with some kind of ride interlock before the driver can proceed.

  83. @Mark YES YES YES! You've just hit the nail on the head! (Because it's sometimes hard to catch the license plate - esp in a crowded location at night, i.e., airport!) Hope the right people are listening!!!!

  84. @Mark You mean like, um, the license tag number, make, model and color of the car, all of which is clearly provided on the app?

  85. One way to avoid the problem of knowing whether or not a car is your Uber: agree on a password; driver speaks first. No code? No ride. No excuses.

  86. This is why I always verify the car description m, driver description, and license plate number before I get into an Uber/Lyft.

  87. It might not have been a bad idea to recommend that people match the license plate of the car with the one on the phone. Might sound obvious but still worth mentioning. And have the driver show you THEIR phone.

  88. ALWAYS look for a license plate number that matches the one displayed on the app. This doesn't mean that a legit Uber or Lyft driver won't assault you (that has happened), but you'll be getting into the right vehicle. Also, consider using Uber Pool or Via. It's not as direct as a private Uber, but you'll be riding with other people. Even if there are no others in the car when you get in, the possibility that the car may be requested to stop for another person makes it safer. And, finally, consider setting your Home location a block away from your real address (assuming you live in a city) to shield your true address, both from the driver and from other riders in a shared vehicle.

  89. @Elizabeth A drivers have the option of who they pick up. They can decline a rider, even on a pool. So if they want to have a single passenger on a pool, they can choose to keep it that way. Always check the license, and ask the driver who they are waiting for. Once you have that, confirm with the driver that you know their name, THEN get in the car.

  90. There are real reasons why yellow cabs are licensed and post their medallion number on the top and sides of their cars. These reasons are all the more important when you consider that Uber and Lyft are often used by people who have been drinking too much and (intelligently) call a taxi to take them home instead of driving home under the influence. But it is much harder to make an intelligent decision about whether the car you were getting into is safe when you are inebriated. The driver should post a sign in the window this is the name of the passenger they are picking up. But without a licensed medallion number, at a 2am pickup- a woman on the street alone with a criminal is not safe, even if she checks whether the driver has her name. So yes, I prefer licensed yellow taxis that publicly post their medallion number. But if people use other car services, they should, at minimum, always wait for their car service with a buddy.

  91. @common sense advocate A taxi with a medallion tells you absolutely nothing about who is driving it! In NYC, most yellow cabs are leased, not owned, so the driver is rarely the owner of the medallion. The only way to know if the driver is legit is to see their license, if they have made it visible in the back seat. Good luck knowing if that is the person driving.

  92. @common sense advocate Oh, please, we're talking about tens of thousands of drinkers coming out of bars in the middle of the night, outside of NY, there will be no called cabs coming for hours, if at all. And outside of major cities, the cabs I've had to get into were death traps (no seat belts, bad breaks, no shocks, etc.) whose doped up drivers couldn't find my way home or take credit cards. The risks of getting into fake Uber/Lyft cars are small compared to the other multitudinous dangers a drunk faces (driving, going home with strangers, even walking home.

  93. @Glenn - read to the end of the comment: if people use other car services, they should, at minimum, always wait for their car service with a buddy

  94. I along with countless other family and friends spent the day yesterday at Samantha's funeral. Since we first got the notice that she was missing we have been in shock and as the days have gone on it has only gotten worse. Marcie and Seymour have buried a child and Sydney has lost a beloved sister. We have all lost a beloved young woman- friend, niece, cousin, girlfriend- I could go on and on. My ongoing fear is that even though hopefully there will be some changes to make these services safer, it will always be easy for predators to fake the badges, put up phony lights and continue to make it easy for people to make what they think is an informed decision that turns out to be fatal. At this point I only hope that no other family will have to go through this- but I'm scared that it will happen again to some other wonderful person.

  95. Condolences to you and your community, Ekamhi. Just make it the community's lifelong tribute to Samantha to ensure that every step is taken by government and Uber/Lyft/etc. to positively identify themselves going forward so that this never happens so easily again. Samantha's Law.

  96. @Ekamhi So sorry for your loss.

  97. @Ekamhi All of my condolences. Honour the memory of your friend by starting an online petition to call for the ban of these predatory companies.

  98. My gosh. What a nothing story. "What's my name?" That's the common-sense question every Uber rider should ask before getting into the car. Do that, and there's zero chance of anything untoward happening. Instead, we get this hang-wringing story about what should be done about something that already is completely preventable. I highly doubt that this comment will be published anytime soon. Instead, NYT is actively trolling for folks to write comments if they've had scary experiences with Uber. What a disgraceful way to practice journalism.

  99. @August West People make mistakes. Blaming the victim does nothing to change the situation. If Uber cars were, as taxis are, unique in appearance there would be less opportunity for criminals to find victims.

  100. @August West This is obviously a story as somebody died unnecessarily. I think it great that they publish it so that people will remember and be more careful. It's easy to get careless if in your own experience there's never been any trouble and that leaves an opening for predators. Stories like this close that opening.

  101. @EFM I don't mean to blame the victim. But this story was overkill. As for decorating cars, well, I see Uber and Lyft signs on cars with a fair amount of frequency now. There's nothing to prevent a rapist from displaying such a sign, so that won't help. At the end of the day, the bottom line remains the same: Uber provides unique identifiers--license plate numbers, year, make and model of cars, driver name--for riders. Riders as we speak have all the tools to protect themselves. More regulations aren't going to prevent more tragedies. A bit more common sense and caution will. And I'd like to see NYT spend finite resources on better stories than this.

  102. Pay attention. Look at the make of the car, plates and photo of the driver. Stupid mistakes.

  103. @Bill: Stupid mistakes? I hope you're not blaming the women.

  104. @Anne It's not their fault they got killed or robbed, but it's definitely their fault they got in the wrong car. I don't even understand how this is a problem. I always look at the license plate when I'm getting in an Uber and I'm shocked apparently so many people don't. Not even because I'm afraid of being killed, but because I want to patronize the right person.

  105. @Bill Of course most people who would make these stupid mistakes are drunk, coming out of bars in the wee hours of the morning.

  106. "Before you get in the car, check that license plate, driver photo, and driver name all match what's listed in the app. Uber rides can only be requested through the app, so never get in a car with a driver who claims to be with Uber and offers a ride." https://www.uber.com/info/rider-safety-tips/ Is that so hard? Please, people, take some responsibility for your own safety. Government won't always be there to hold your hand.

  107. @Ed--Have you ever been a young person? Have you ever made a mistake because you were distracted, in a rush, or under the influence? Have you ever neglected to follow every recommended safety practice in every aspect of your life? If you are perfect, good for you, but most people make mistakes. That doesn't mean that they are irresponsible, and it certainly doesn't mean that they deserve to be robbed, raped, or murdered. Your last sentence is ridiculous and reflects the typical regulation-hating, blame-the-victim MAGA attitudes.

  108. Get a taxi.

  109. @JP Believe me, I wish I could. But in my city, we have a cab shortage, and they're all downtown. The last time I used the Flywheel app to call a cab, I waited 40 minutes, they never showed up, and I missed my appointment. I imagine it's even worse for people in the suburbs, where taxis aren't so common.

  110. @JP Yeah, call a taxi--and wait a few months for it to arrive. It taxi companies had their acts together, we wouldn't have Uber or Lyft.

  111. Who gets into a Uber/Lyft car without first checking to see if it matches the one you ordered and if the driver knows your name?

  112. @JM People under the influence. Was that hard?

  113. Did you read the article, JM? Apparently, a lot of people enter ride share cars without checking. They’re outside a busy venue, see the decal, and hop in. They don’t deserve to be murdered or assaulted for it.

  114. @KAJones. Yes, I read the article. I wasn't implying that anyone deserves to be murdered - that's an unfair statement.

  115. I am a driver, I cant tell you how many times people try to hop in my car without looking and think I am their driver. There are bad actors out there, and you are the first person responsible for your safety. I can go on with hundreds of stories, but I am going to leave the ladies here some advice. If you are in a situation, where you actually have a driver on App, or someone who you may think may not be a driver. Fake it that you are receiving a phone call, act extremely upset that your loved one was just rushed to a local hospital. Tell the driver to bring you straight to the local emergency room. Use excuse, family, friend, etc has been rushed to that hospital. Now why do you ask about the emergency room. Simple, they are open 365 days a year, 24 hours/7 days a week. There are always people there, and there is almost always a cop stationed there. Go inside, and wait for the driver to leave, and than order a new car.

  116. @M. Andras. Huh? If its a bad actor, why would they comply?

  117. @M. Andras Uh, how about some controls from the companies who earn money from this and approve drivers? I use cabs. I know the driver is licensed, who they are and while not perfect, safer.

  118. This would be easy to fix by giving the driver and rider a matching pickup code number for each ride.

  119. Not if the app has been hacked.

  120. The fact Uber has added the ability to contact 911 directly from the app is as reassuring as dining at a restaurant with the Poison Control Network phone number printed on the menu.

  121. Did these companies forget that we have technology these days? Uber and Lyft drivers *ought* each have a unique QR code sticker on the front dash-passenger side-of each car. And your ride can't start until you scan the bar code with your app, and the app gives you a thumbs up that this is the correct driver for your particular ride. (And the back of the sticker should be a solid color so you can never scan the bar code from inside the car, you have to scan before you get in). The onus needs to be on the company to ensure the process is failsafe. My condolences and sympathies to the Josephson family. May her memory be a blessing.

  122. @Dmitri they already have a "QR code," it's called the license plate. What the companies should do is force an OCR verification of the license plate before the ride starts.

  123. More than once my ride-share driver has shown up with a different license plate than the one shown on the app. They always have a plausible reason - "Lyft just hasn't updated the app" or something like that. I don't think I'll be getting in a car again unless the license plate matches, even if it costs me. Lyft and Uber, this is on you to fix.

  124. From the outset, I decided I would never take Uber or Lyft. I want my taxi driver vetted by a well-established company like Yellow Cab. I also would never rent on Airbnb; familiar hotels and motels are safer and more dependable.

  125. I am horrified that the women reporting these crimes are still being made to feel somehow responsible. Perhaps police departments need to recruit more female detectives to help with these cases. No crime victim should be made to feel responsible for being victimized. As for Uber and Lyft, they underpay their drivers, have deliberately skirted the law, and are easy to impersonate. If we believe in the progressive values promoted by this paper, we should be taking a licensed cab to our destinations. We should all put our money where our hearts are.

  126. You may want to check that. Uber drivers in some cities like New York are required to undergo background checks but not in every city

  127. I always check the car license plate, before i get into an Uber or Lyft. But I am also not out late at night and drunk, looking for my ride - you are vulnerable if you are doing that, whether you are a man or a woman. One idea might be to have a buddy program -have someone with you, that makes sure you get into the right car. These predators are looking for the easy preys.

  128. Years ago - early 2000s timeframe - long before Uber and Lyft came onto the scene, there were livery services in NYC that shuttled people around in addition to the regular cabs that were everywhere. I was out one evening with my roommate, a Manhattan native, her boyfriend (who was from Brooklyn), and two other friends when a large car pulled over as we were trying to hail a cab. The driver rolled down the window and asked us if we needed a ride. He was very insistent that he could drive us, and the car was similar to others used by livery services at the time. My roommate approached the car with some trepidation, but when her boyfriend asked loudly, "Are you a licensed cab?", the driver burst out laughing and drove off. It was sketchy and weird, and it definitely taught me that unless you know the driver is with a licensed cab company/car service, don't go anywhere with that person. I don't know what that guy was up to all those years ago but it was probably nothing good and now, with the plethora of ride-sharing, it's easier than ever for predators to cause harm. I've only had two experiences with Uber. My Uber experience in Westchester was fine, but the Uber a friend and I called in Manhattan never showed up. We ended up taking a cab. When in doubt, take the cab, especially in NYC. Their licenses are clearly displayed in the vehicle and you basically know what you're getting. You don't always know what you're getting with Uber, as this tragic article demonstrates.

  129. @Lindsay K I occasionally use a local livery service in my neighborhood. Their newer cars have their logo in the rear window, the older cars put a carboard sign in the front window.

  130. Most likely it was one of the gypsy cabs that used to roam the streets. They were dangerous, but mainly for the drivers . . .

  131. Drivers Licenses are supposed to be clearly displayed in rideshare cars as well. Report to TLC if they are not by calling 311 in NYC.

  132. I only ride in these cars when my friend orders them but why can’t they just have the driver text a confirmation to the passenger before the passenger gets in the car and the passenger too texts back confirmation I know that takes time but probably less time than trying to read a license plate

  133. @Dani Weber It only takes a second to check the license plate, far less time than the double texting sequence.

  134. Recently, I decided to try a LYFT Ride Share. When the car arrived, there was already one female passenger. I noted the license plate did not match the plate indicated on the app and pointed this out to the driver who said "sometimes I drive a different car." His face did match the app photo. He pulled away and should have driven straight west to my/our destination. However, he left course and drove to a less populated industrial area. I asked him where he was going...he said "to pick someone else up."Four miles later, I told him to "let me out of the car." The female passenger did not speak english and she agreed this felt"wrong in some way." I didn't want to leave her alone. The uncommunicative driver said he "couldn't find his pick-up" and wanted me to calm down. I said "I do not like this."He did not slow but, did turn around and head to the most direct route. What should have been simple turned into something else.Immediately following I contacted LYFT and asked them to respond to my concerns. What I got was a standard email that dismissed my concerns. The email said "OOPS that's on us" "sometimes our drivers are asked to pick-up......" Not what I expected. They are complicit based on this lack of response.

  135. @Rebecca Krueger I'm relieved to hear that you are okay - find it incredulous that LYFT wasn't responsive. I've missed some important parts of your story. Did you arrive at your destination? Did the other female exit with you? I don't understand why, despite the red flags, you got into the car. I hope you've read the TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE that accompanies this article and will follow them in the future.

  136. @Rebecca Krueger I would have called 911 immediately after he refused to let me out.

  137. @Rebecca Krueger This happened to a teenager in CO in an Uber Pool. Another passenger was in the car and the driver drove all over the place, claiming he had to let the other passenger out first even though the teenager's house was closer to the pick up and he drove right by her neighborhood. Thankfully, the teenager managed to get out of the car. I think a ride share situation is especially dangerous, since it gives the driver legitimate reasons for not going directly to your destination (and who knows who the other person might be!)

  138. Women, this is your elder Auntie. Do NOT get into a " ride share " vehicle alone, especially after Dark. Only do this IF there is a FEMALE Driver. NOT Victim blaming here, but you must use some common sense, as there are some very real Monsters among us. And your are their Prey. Be safe, and be aware.

  139. @Phyliss Dalmatian what time in sundown in Wichita? We have lives to live, and for a number of reasons can't always drive ourselves. Not that walking to my car alone after dark is any safer. Oh, wait, am I just supposed to have a man with me at all times? You think you aren't victim blaming, but you are happily keeping us caged.

  140. Uber has license plate and name of driver on the app . Check both first no ?

  141. @richard That makes her murder all the more tragic. I have yet to use Uber or Lyft and didn't know that the vehicle plate number appears on the app.

  142. @NYC Taxpayer It does! I'm shocked that there has to be a whole article about this, new laws, etc. Every time I take Uber, the license plate is literally how I know my car is there, along with the color and make which help me recognize it. I'm baffled that people don't look at it.

  143. My heart goes out to the victims of these crimes, but my head shakes in wonder at the number of people who are so careless about personal security. Didn't your mommy teach you not to get in a car with a stranger?

  144. As women we need to be able to chose women drivers!

  145. @Sue It is unlawful to demand a service provider or other worker based upon their sex. It is called "Sex Discrimination"

  146. @Sue Male predators will dress as women in hopes of snaring more victims. It is no longer unusual to see men dressed as women. Women can be predators too. The best way to be safe is for Uber passengers to check the make and plate of the car and blind confirm both people’s names before getting in the car. RIP Ms Suarez and my condolences to her family.

  147. @Sue Given all the lurking male aggression, how do you guarantee the safety of the women drivers? That would mean that women only drive women. Somehow, I am not sure this is the right solution to male violence - isolate men and women. Seems like what patriarchy always prescribes for the "safety" of women.

  148. Let’s hope the prosc does their job and gives Rowland the death penalty. Premeditated kidnapping and homicide indicate psychopathic instincts that need to be removed from our society.

  149. I had a dodgy moment recently in Washington DC, and there really is no timely way to contact Uber. I hope somebody from a rideshare company is reading this comment. Here’s what happened. I was dining v late alone at a restaurant on Prospect Street that has lately become known for “celebrity” clientele that maintains close ties to the President. I hailed an Uber after midnight. The first screen said the driver would arrive in four minutes. The screen refreshed. Then a driver arrived in seconds in an unmarked car. He spoke my name through the window. Oddly, he did not seem to answer to the name of the drive who had been on my screen moments before. I was wary. When I asked why he didn’t have his Uber light on. When I moved to the rear of the car to check his license, he cursed at me, using an obscenity completely at odds with his religious garb, and sped off east on Prospect street. It was most unsettling. I got the impression he had hacked Uber. How else would he have been able to speak my name? Shaken, I went back inside and told the maître d’hôtel to be vigilant. Something made me think that perhaps the “fake Uber driver” was targeting clients of this restaurant specifically. I saw nowhere on the Uber app to report this. The first driver had been delayed by poor driving directions and soon arrived. The ride proceeded normally. Thank you for giving me the opportunity, through your comments section, to make Uber aware of this incident.

  150. @Suzanne Stroh Sorry for your experience, which illustrates what a lot of commenters are saying: Tools already exist--license plate numbers, make, model, year of car--for riders to protect themselves, even if drivers hack Uber. You did exactly the right thing. I agree with you that Uber should make it easier for riders to contact the company to voice concerns about this sort of thing, and other sorts of things. I've tried, without success, to contact Uber about other concerns, and it's nigh impossible.

  151. @Suzanne Stroh - I've had situations where the uber person driving the vehicle that arrives is not the one on the profile, but that i think has happened for ppl who let friends/relatives drive for them. Also situations where the uber driver demands cash instead of payment by credit card, and they cancel the ride (which is out of the passenger's control, especially when the ride has already started). your situation is creepier tho

  152. Thank you and I’m sorry about your own experiences!

  153. there is a very simple solution to this - establish a code word with your driver- if a driver shows up and does not know the code word you get the heck out of there.

  154. I can't believe so many of these commenters are blaming the victims.

  155. @SusanH We're just stating facts. As several women here have pointed out, they've used the tools provided--year, make, model of car as well as license plate numbers--to avoid sketchy situations. Yes, these are tragic situations. But they also were preventable.

  156. @August West - No, you are blaming the victim. You have no idea what precautions this young lady did or didn't take, but at the end of the day the guy driving the car shouldn't have been posing as a ride share driver, he shouldn't have activated the child safety locks to trap the young lady in his car, and he shouldn't have stabbed her to death in the backseat. He is the problem here, along with an unregulated industry that has loopholes that allow people like this predator to access potential victims. Women who are attacked aren't at fault - the attackers are, and I find it astounding and reprehensible that so many people in this comments section - a lot of whom, but not all of whom, are men - are essentially blaming the women for being raped, abused, kidnapped, robbed, and, in the case of this young lady, murdered by psychopaths.

  157. @SusanH You are correct, of course - but . . . Let's distinguish between fault, responsibility, and problem. Whose fault is it? The predator. Whose responsibility is it? Shared between the predator and the companies and regulators who decided that ridesharing could dispense with all the traditional protections in place for taxis and other common carriers. Whose problem is it? The rider who might become a victim. She (or he) will want to know what extra steps she (or he) can take to reduce the chances of being a victim - even though she shouldn't have to do that and it isn't, isn't, isn't her fault. I like to add a 4th question: who has the power to do something about it? That would be the companies and regulators, and maybe the voters who select the regulators. Even the predators don't have the power to do something about it, because they can't control other predators. And the potential victims have only a little power to take a few extra steps - that they shouldn't have to take - to protect themselves before they get into the car.

  158. Please, when ordering an Uber, check the model and color of the car and the name of the driver when the trip is confirmed. Before getting into the car check for the Uber sign on the windshield, make sure the driver says your name and confirm his/her name before getting in the car.

  159. @Richard DeSimone Well, this whole "What's my name" business is sure to backfire when people start using it to "steal" Uber rides from others without paying. Of course you could inadvertently end up in Poughkeepsie, but I suppose you could just tell the driver your phone died and could he change the destination manually. Passengers should announce their own names, and drivers should announce their own as well in response. (Of course matching the make/model/license plate is the easiest thing...)

  160. Taxi drivers receive training and are unionized professionals—if we gotta get somewhere fast or far, we only take nyc yellow cabs!

  161. Common sense is a trait that the 21st century human has less and less of.

  162. There should be some sort of "medallion" or visible VETTED ID set up to prevent this sort of thing.

  163. @skanda You can verify the license plate and driver's name and face with the info provided by the ride-sharing app. I always do that.

  164. @skanda Let's not completely forget women have been raped and assaulted in yellow taxis, either by drivers who borrowed their friends cab to make extra money or by the medallion holders themselves. I myself had a yellow cab driver tear open the back door and demand I get out of the cab at 2 am on Queens Blvd because I demanded to know why his meter wasn't on. I was afraid for my safety both from his aggression and form being on an abandoned street. I was not drunk I was afraid, the number one thought in my head if the driver doesn't put his meter on is he is going to attack me. This is how women must think, we really are not safe anywhere and must follow procedures to try to keep ourselves safer. I urge the entire country to enforce front and back license plates for cars, it makes is much easier to verify if the Uber is yours.

  165. @CEI According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, worldwide, 78.7% of homicide victims are male.

  166. All of the suggestions on security practices are moot if someone is drunk and inattentive. Women are so vulnerable when intoxicated. No one has the right to attack us sexually or to rob us, but let's face it, we are much easier targets when drunk. WE are responsible for taking the best care of ourselves as possible. Ladies...don't travel alone at night and stay sober.

  167. While these sensational deaths are tragic, we should also keep in mind the thousands who are saved from drunk driving deaths because of the prevalence of Uber/Lyft. No one is writing newspaper stories about the thousands of people who are likely alive today who would be dead from drunk driving accidents that Uber/Lyft have prevented.

  168. @Theo E - You know what else has prevented the types of deaths that you decry? Cabs. Licensed cabs with licensed, insured drivers. Look, it's not that Uber and Lyft don't have responsible drivers who follow the rules of the law and help people get home safely. But people weren't running amok before ride shares came along. People got home via cabs and friends, and unfortunately drunk driving still happens today even though cabs and Uber/Lyft are zooming all over the place. Just because Uber and Lyft provide quality services when they actually work well doesn't mean journalists shouldn't write articles about what happens when they don't. Ride share industries are not regulated like the yellow cab industry and until they are, tragedies like this may happen and articles like this should be written, so that passengers can be safe and educate themselves accordingly.

  169. @Theo E Wait, cabs didn’t exist before Uber and Lyft? I’d like to see this assertion supported.

  170. I don't know. Call me Old-fashioned but Back-in-the-Day if the group was mixed then one of the guys would see the young woman safely home. If the group was all women, then they stuck together or at least in pairs. The reporting says that this young woman got separated from her friends. The world is a dangerous damn place. The Internet is not necessarily your friend. Having said that, the beast who committed this horrifying crime should and I trust will get the death penalty.

  171. @Lefthalfbach I am a woman in my 30s, so I started going out to bars before ride sharing existed. And you know what? For me and many other women, services like Uber were a wonderful blessing because I could finally be free to come and go when I pleased, without relying on or waiting for some dude who keeps saying, "Yeah I'm leaving soon." Now I live in Munich, which is so safe that I can walk or take the bus alone at any hour. It is amazing! I never have to worry what time it gets dark! I never want to go back to the "chaperone" system. Sure it kind of worked but it was stifling, and it was like, we are just accepting that women are not safe. Well I dont accept that. And as many cities around the world prove, it doesn't have to be like that. The streets can be safe for women.

  172. @C. F. Well, that is a good point. Oddly enough, I never saw it as being a a "...chaperone..." system but then I am a guy. To me, it was just being a gentleman. Also, if the young woman wanted to go home, I took her then. So did my pals. Maybe things had changed between when you were in your twenties and I was in mine. I am not a young guy. However, within the last year, I finished my beer when a woman with whom I was chatting-a friend of mine who chanced to come into the bar while I was there, - wanted to walk home. And I walked her home. As for safety in cities? I am happy to hear that Munich is so safe. Charleston, South Carolina is not.

  173. @Lefthalfbach But what if the women don't live together? One of them's going to end up alone.

  174. Don't drink so much that you can't ensure your safety by checking license plate. Laws can't fix that. That said, getting SO tired of cops disbelieving women.

  175. @Kilroy71Better yet, don't drink at all and carry a concealed handgun. Oh, that's right... in NY you can only do that if you know someone in the right circles, otherwise your application gets lost in red-tape.

  176. I always just check that the plate matches and of course I'm looking for a specific make and model. It's an obvious potential danger to just assume. I suppose if you ride a lot you could get complacent, but a couple of stories like this should help people remember.

  177. If only there was a regulated version of Uber, where the drivers are vetted and trained, and the cars are clearly marked with medallions and paint. Oh wait, there is... There's a reason cities regulated their taxi industries before the gig economy: passenger safety. Uber and Lyft have flaunted those regulations, and predators have taken advantage of the resulting confusion. But consumers should keep in mind that a good old yellow cab is most likely the safest option, even if it's not the cheapest.

  178. @Jack That's very easy to say as a New York resident (even if you're in Brooklyn! ;-) ), and I agree with you here - I rarely use Uber in Manhattan. But have you ever tried to take a taxi cab in virtually any other US city (let alone suburban areas)? For all their faults, Uber and Lyft identified a market need and used technology to meet that need efficiently. Could the taxi industry have just developed their own apps? Probably, but what was the incentive? There was no competition! This is a tough situation, and it's hard not to lay some responsibility to use the service wisely at the feed of the riders. I'm sure that's tearing at this young lady's friends and family--this didn't need to happen.

  179. I agree. I had a late flight into Albuquerque a few days ago and there were no taxis waiting at their stand. I called the number that was posted at the taxi stand and person told me that taxis are not there that late ( it was 11:30pm) and I should take a Uber. As a female that travels alone often, I am uncomfortable taking Ubers in cities I am not familiar with, but sometimes it’s the only choice.

  180. @Jack One of the reasons people use uber/lyft is that cab drivers often try to cheat you with the myriad scams they have developed over the years. I use lyft all over the world regardless of cost vs. cabs because it's safer. For instance, in Italy you need to be a licensed cab driver to drive for uber/lyft so it's a bit more expensive than just hailing a cab, but I and a lot of other people still use it because you avoid the cab shenanigans. And plenty of people have been raped and murdered in cabs.

  181. I was simply parking on a residential street in Chicago one day when a woman I had not even noticed suddenly approached my car and tried to open the back door. The fact that my doors were locked did not deter her. I was rather freaked out and shouted "Who are you?" "Oh," she said, "you're not my Uber?" Just an example of how willing people are to jump into a stranger's car. Me? I take taxis.

  182. @Jeremy Taxis are also strangers' cars.

  183. I don’t drive. Tried it, hated it, and for years relied on my husband. He didn’t want me to drive either. Now that he is gone I rely on friends and family. My sons tell me to try Uber, and I have told them repeatedly no way, they’re not like cabs in NYC which I have used for years. They have told me the same advice that other comments have offered; check names on app, ect. My sister and I passed the funeral of the poor girl yesterday, and agreed it was not just her fault. Stick with your friends, never take a Uber by yourself if you have been drinking, and if you have to, go get a cup of coffee to sober up and be super cautious. Text your friends. Use a registered car service. None of this advice will help this family now, but young adults have to be more suspicious, I’d rather that than bury a child.

  184. @Mary Nagle Having tended bar for years, I can assure you that coffee will not sober one up. Trainee drinkers are easily preyed upon. Teach your children how to be responsible and cautious in this dangerous world.

  185. @Mary Nagle As @Timothy Mulherin observes, coffee will not sober you up. Go get a cup of coffee anyway - but linger over it and add a Danish. What sobers you up is taking a long, long time to drink your coffee.

  186. If you notice, most of these riders are impaired with alcohol, the deadliest and legal drug on the market. It is difficult to reason with a drunk person and tell them what to do and not do. It would be nice if bars and nightclubs would provide extra protection to their clients by getting sure that there is a sober person outside monitoring for trolls. There are plenty of people who would do this for a tip and minimum wage or less. The bar where Samantha got picked up will certainly see a drop in its clients due to bad publicity. Did the business wish that outcome when they could and now can still provide such protection?

  187. When traveling internationally, tourists are always cautioned to engage taxis from inside the airport, using a safe taxi company. In Buenos Aires, your hotel will call a "radio taxi" from a company that has been vetted. Walking outside the building and just getting into a car from someone who is acting like a taxi/uber/lyft driver is very dangerous. I prefer registered taxi companies and hotels with a concierge desk (3 star is fine) and companies that have invested in their business and do it in an ethical, legal way - oh, and that also pay their workers and their taxes.

  188. @AliceP I've used Uber and Lyft in Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Lisbon... Lots of cities where I don't know where things are and there might be a language barrier. The apps are better than taxis because both you and the driver already know the destination and can follow the route.

  189. As a young woman, there are a lot of measures I take to keep myself safe and I'm grateful that the women in my life taught them to me growing up. I do have to say that although I know watching over your shoulder is part of being a woman, it's so tiring. I want to be able to take an Uber and not worry that I'm going to be murdered. I know statistically the likelihood is low, but it's still in the back of my mind. What we really need is a change in how society treats women, but I still have to take my safety into my own hands.

  190. History shows that women have been assaulted since the start of it’s recording. Don’t expect society or people to change. Life is real

  191. @Susan I know I'm young and naive, but things aren't going to change if we don't expect it to and work toward that change. That's the kind of attitude that keeps society stagnant.

  192. @Mackenzie - No, that's called reality. No matter how much we evolve, there will always be those who don't, and in great numbers. It's taken thousands of years to progress even this far, and we're going backwards. There is no Utopia. Keep up the fight, by all means, but be clear-eyed about it. Positive thinking has nothing to do with it.

  193. After parking my car recently, a young woman jumped in the back seat thinking I was her Uber ride. She was so careless that she did not even notice I had no Uber decal. After some confusion on both our parts, she spotted her actual Uber ride, apologized, and jumped out. Her Uber ride car was not even the same color as mine. I hope this horrible story will get people to be a lot more careful, but ride share companies need to come up with solutions for people who are not only paying attention, but those who are not. It is very easy to get distracted when you are with a group having fun and in many other scenarios.

  194. @MRod Several other commenters in this thread have also reported unexpected people jumping into their cars. My question is: Why aren't your car doors locked? Except the one you exited a moment before. You're right though, some people are just not being careful and that can turn out very badly.

  195. And then there's the other angle. One time I pulled over to the side of the road and parked to make a cell call. All of a sudden a stranger opened the car door and started to get in. I reasonably assumed he was a carjacker or robber. Had I been driving my car with its usual stuff instead of a rental, that guy would have been quickly dispatched to a hospital at the least.

  196. @Steve Fankuchen You don't lock your door...?

  197. Long before Uber and Lyft, it was commonplace to flag down any town car that had a "tissue box" in the rear window when you were north of 125th St. (so called "gypsy cabs") This was considered a safe thing to do when travelling with a large group, but by the late 90's, it became something that even women riding alone would commonly do. The change followed the Gulliani crack down on crime, and the increase in police on the streets (and the heavy handed tactics they would use on the mentally ill (how we classify drug addiction today)... who are in fact a major threat. In that environment, people started to feel safe, whether jumping into strangers cars or jogging again in central park at dusk. But those conditions have been undermined in many ways in the past 10 years, but people remain lulled into a blissful "it's safe out there" misconception. People I know who drive for Uber (which is not particularly safe IMHO) seem to think that the cashless nature of their business makes them immune from targeting. In fact, it makes an impersonal stick up ("give me your cash"), into a personal relationship ("your going to get me money from the ATM"). Those situations are the ones where the criminal is most likely to feel the risk justifies violence / killing to cover their tracks.

  198. Thank you nytimes for adding coverage to this which will help legislators work on this. This is media being great. I’m crying frankly as I read about this nightmare for women. Thank you again.

  199. I have requested Lyft to allow women to request women drivers, but they've ignored my email. Maybe some savvy female tech entrepreneur can create a version of Uber and Lyft for women and by women, all female drivers, all female passengers. Just as many drivers drive for both Uber and Lyft, a female driver could drive for the all female company and the others. I always feel relieved and happy to get a female driver at random on Lyft and would love to be able to request one. I'm the meantime, I always check the model and color of the car and the driver's face against the information provided by Lyft. I'm going to start checking the license plate also. I agree that everyone needs to be careful getting into these cars. Maybe young inebriated women could help each other verify their rideshare vehicles....

  200. @S.G. checking the license plate should be the first thing you do. There could be a glitch in the system where the wrong color or make of the car come up. Then confirm that the driver knows you're name by asking them who they are waiting for BEFORE you get into the car.

  201. @S.G. I believe this exists, I have seen Safr advertised on the subway - but not sure how widespread it is.

  202. I took my first and last Uber ride in 2016, when I took one from one destination to another in Miami, while visiting the city for the first time. At the end of the ride, in my naivety, I asked the driver "Do I pay you? Or does it go onto the card I have on file?" "You pay me," he lied. There was something about the way he was that raised my "scam" antenna, and I walked away. That the driver didn't protest confirmed my suspicions. To their credit, when I emailed and complained about the driver to Uber, they refunded the price of the ride. But, yea, first and last Uber. Unlike the yellow cab or livery business (I drove a livery cab briefly in Manhattan) any deviant, criminal or lowlife can drive for Uber, which is why that was my first and last trip.

  203. Too bad — one dishonest driver and your done. What other services do you apply that to? I found the service helpful but sometimes airports and some hotels make it very difficult to locate your ride by forcing these drivers to park further away and where it is not easy to see them.

  204. Uber should have roof top lighted signs like yellow cabs or at least like dominos pizza, but more secure, authenticated and distributed by Uber.

  205. @restobehumansanity right; anyone can make an Uber or Lyft sign and put it in their front dash window.

  206. @restobehumansanity..with an ID number on it.

  207. I am not a ride share driver and have had three people - all women - try to get into my car when parked in a driveway waiting to pick up friends. This has happened within the last six months. The fact that they’re all young women in their twenties speaks to a larger problem of naïveté at best or completely lacking any awareness at worst. Or both. Whatever the case, hopefully more public service announcements cautioning women to exercise common sense would be a good first step. Or, better yet, require all ride share cars be painted yellow and become more regulated...

  208. @Paula M definitely agree all ride share cars should have much better indications of who they are...if not paint, at least a large rear facing placard on headrest with photo of driver, id and plate number. Phone App description of car and plate is not so easily identifiable at night.

  209. You put a card on file on your Uber account to pay for rides. Why would you think you pay the driver directly?

  210. @Paula M--that defeats the whole purpose and business model of these companies.

  211. Common sense says if you must make use of these companies that at least when you are getting in a stranger's car :You ask first for the name of the driver and number of the car you have called or if there is an order number, confirm it. You do not give your own name first, or give the name of the driver first. It is unbelievable to me that one would trust getting in the car of a stranger in this age knowing all dangers and possibilities. Why not arrange a legitimate car service, or wait for a taxi (at least in the cities)Is convenience more important than safety?

  212. Not sure how it’s being overlooked that the license plate, make, model, and color of the driver’s car are listed in the app, and there’s no excuse for not verifying these. I’ve never had an issue, because I’ve always confirmed these prior to getting into a car, no matter how intoxicated. A little personal responsibility goes a long way.

  213. Personal responsibility for getting into a car with a serial rapist and murderer? Though hindsight is 20/20, it is not always easy at night to see these details — besides up until the publication of these incidents I would never have guessed that such dangerous individuals are purposely posing as Uber drivers. Therese companies could install a verification system — perhaps one that “pings” on both phones when they have the right driver or a quick confirmation code to the riders cell phone.

  214. @Jon and sometimes a driver's plate doesn't match because Lyft/Uber isn't efficient in making those updates.

  215. @Jon Good point, but perhaps instead "a little diligence goes a long way". A victim can be the most responsible person on earth. That won't prevent them from being attacked.

  216. These companies, Lyft and Uber, need to be heavily regulated. The drivers should be union and have extensive background checks conducted on them.

  217. @Eugene Debs--that defeats the whole purpose and business model of these companies.

  218. @Eugene Debs Sort of like commercial taxis, you mean? This is exactly why cabbies are vetted and licensed.

  219. I'm currently studying abroad from the US in the Dominican Republic. It's actually quite common here for the car to not match what the app says- people borrow their friend's cars, drivers have their original account suspended so they share a profile with a friend. My tactic is to always check that they have my profile up on their phones (most have a dash stands for their phones). There was a ride I took where the driver cancelled the trip on the app as soon as we got in the car (I don't have data service here so I didn't find this out until I got to wifi) and drove us around the city, ignoring our directions. He charged us 3x the average toll, and Uber can't do anything about this since the trip was technically cancelled. If I could do it over again, I'd get out of the car as soon as I suspected he was trying to scam us. It's hard to know when you're doing the right thing when in such an intimidating situation.

  220. Always check the plates! Always always always. Uber and Lyft both in their app provide a photograph of your driver, the make, model and color of their vehicle, and the plates! If any one of these don’t check out, do NOT get in the car! In my opinion, Uber is safer than conventional taxis. Travelling in Mexico, we were warned by locals to only use cabs we phoned for or those located at authorized locations, because taxis driving on the streets were known to sometimes rob tourists. We once got into a cab we thought was the one we had phoned for, but we later learned from the B&B owners that the cab we’d phoned showed up a few minutes later and couldn’t find us! Fortunately, we were lucky, and our ride was safe and comfortable and the taxi driver was pleasant. Still, I’d far preferred to have had Uber then, so I could have confirmed the approaching cab was the one I phoned, and avoided any potentially unsafe situations. (of course, I don’t think Uber gives their drivers a fair shake, but that’s a separate issue)

  221. Ride-sharing apps need some kind of two-step authentication. Yes we might check the plates but some cars have plates on in the back, sometimes it's late and night and the plates can't be read. How about every ride having a 4-digit code that only the passenger and driver are issued and the passenger checks that the driver knows the code before getting into the car? Easily implemented.

  222. I’m an infrequent, but enthusiastic rider. The cars that I have been in are almost always cleaner, nicer, and more comfortable than a taxi in the same areas. I have had great Uber drivers that have become my go-to drivers. However, I always check the licence plate, ask the driver to tell me my name, and to tell me his/her name before getting in the car! To do anything less is insane and irresponsible. I also try to check the drivers profile pic against who is driving but it is small and hard to view. In taxis, I always check the drivers pic against the person behind the wheel. All of this takes about 5 seconds. And... if you are driving your own car, keep the doors locked!!! My sister pulled up in front of a Target to pick up her teenage daughter who was at check out. As she came to a complete stop, a guy opened the door and climbed in. She was stunned into momentary silence, but he noticed her panicked stare and he said, “Are you my UBER?” She replied no and he could not have apologised more or moved faster to get out of her car! Luckily, this was a genuine mistake that ended well.

  223. @Eliza I now lock my doors as soon as I get in and until the last second before I get out of my vehicle. I was mugged in my own garage by two men who followed me as I pulled in and yanked the driver's door open, trapping me, before demanding that I hand over my purse.

  224. No LYFT or Uber for me and that's a definite.

  225. When you get into your Uber or Lyft, the first question to ask the driver is, "What is my name?" If he or she does not know (it is easily seen on their app) they are not your driver.

  226. @MaryTheresa- Actually BEFORE you get in. If you remember once the girl in SC was in he locked the door and she was trapped.

  227. One thing I find helpful in New York City is that the ride share vehicles have to have special license plates—beginning with “T”. Just like yellow or green cabs, or black cars. It’s just one more way to be sure the car you’re getting into is an actual ride share driver’s car and not a random person’s. But people should always match the license plate number on the app with the car in front of them, and you can see a little thumbnail sized photo of the driver. Make sure you have the right person. Don’t get in before you check both of those things. If they don’t ask “are you _____?” when you get in, ask *before* closing the door who they’re picking up. Never offer your name first.

  228. Let's take a step back. When you approach an Uber or Lyft for pickup, there are several established criteria, a checklist if you will, to follow to insure your safety. First, is the make and model of the car you requested the same as the make and model of the car picking you up? Second, does the license plate listed in the app match the license plate of the of the car you're about to get into? Third, does the driver match the photo in the app? Fourth, has the driver confirmed your destination? Both Lyft and Uber have added 'panic' buttons that allow you to contact the local police. So, let's please not turn this into anything more than it is. I'm sorry someone lost their life but it wasn't because of anything Lyft and Uber did or did not do. As for women requesting women drivers? What next? Native Americans requesting Native American drivers? Must we stratify everything in our culture because a few don't know how to behave?

  229. Uber doesn't even consider their drivers to be company employees, and barely vets them. So sometimes your Uber driver IS your predator.

  230. Free idea for Uber. Lighted object hung in window that displays a color that matches the color sent to the passenger standing at the curb. If you color matches, it's your car. The lighted object device color is controlled by the app, as is the color on your phone. 10 colors ought to do it.

  231. That feature already exists - it's called spotlight in the Uber app

  232. You have the driver's photo and the license plate for the car. If they don't match, don't get in. Period. Man or woman. Young or old. Take responsibility for your safety.

  233. Although unfortunate, we must decide in giving up much of our privacy if it will help save potential victims from predators, even killers, as depicted in your story. Mentally deranged individuals seem to be 'on the alert' so to assault anybody unaware of their malevolence. Video footage in real time must be part of the solution in this society of ours, apparently stressed out, indifferent to solidarity, and where we look the other way, afraid to get involved to preclude abuse. We are social animals, supposed to protect each other. Unless we changed, unaware of the harm inflicted?

  234. Always, always check the car's make, model and license plate against the car info uber/Lyft provides when booking the ride. Doesn't hurt to ask the driver what his/her name is either.

  235. Can a "safe word" be part of the booking? The driver, then, would have to say the safe word/phrase prior to a passenger entering the vehicle.

  236. Why does Uber make it so hard to read the license plate number of the car on their app. Have you seen that font size? The color and face of the rider is also not easy to read and parse quickly. I find it hard at times to read it at night in dimly lit areas where one often has to get into the ride hailing car.

  237. Both Uber and Lyft send various forms of ID once a driver has been assigned to you . License number , picture of driver , type of vehicle and ability to contact the driver either thru a call or text . I never approach a car asking are you picking up(my name) nor do I assume any car that looks like a Uber , etc. is the car I asked for . Sadly these women have been victimized because they were intoxicated , or alone or because they assumed that vehicle was picking them up . They are only guilty of carelessness ; this is not a safe enough world where we can trustingly overlook the safety measures (as a result of assaults committed by drivers not vetted properly) put in place by these companies . My deepest sympathy to Ms. Josephson's family for their tragic loss .

  238. Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. Taxis ended up as a regulated and inspected industry in part because of incidents like this. That extra regulation, insurance and safety measures don't come free, and so the cost of taxis rose. Along comes a "disruptor" who really just set the clock back to the conditions of the 18th century. Now we must re-learn those lessons all over again and eventually wind up right where we are now. Except we apparently need to kill/rape/rob some people before we realize that the regulations were put there for a reason. Oh, but some tech bros are going to get rich first! So I guess that's OK then.

  239. @AB- It's a brilliant idea and safe 99.999999% of the time. Just like driving your own car or pretty much anything else you do in your life.