Morgan Pritchett
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Hey Lyft and Uber, Don’t Hire Predatory Drivers

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Rideshare services make life incredibly easy at times. When you’re headed out for some drinks with friends and want to stay safe, hailing a Lyft or an Uber is just a couple taps away on your phone. But for some — mostly women — using these services can turn out to be an incredibly stressful (and sometimes harmful) experience. Minneapolis author Kelly Barnhill recently recounted a terrifying Lyft ride that has many calling out the service for having a lack of safety procedures.  

An incredibly harrowing story

What was supposed to be a 40-minute ride to a Houston hotel turned into a 90-minute nightmare for Barnhill. She endured multiple instances of the driver complimenting her eyes (creepy) along with the car going 90 mph on a dark, lonely Texas road. Barnhill kept checking the Lyft app to see when the estimated time of arrival would be, and it kept getting later and later. Eventually, they got so far out of the way that cell phone service was lost and Barnhill started to improvise. After telling stories about her job and family, the driver made a hard turn back onto the freeway and toward the city. Upon arrival, Barnhill was greeted with a $94 receipt for a ride that was supposed to be $30. When she reached out to Lyft about the incident, all she got was a refund for the difference and a canned PR response about how important her safety is to them.

Unsurprisingly, she’s not alone

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After sharing her story online, others have told Barnhill horror stories involving predatory drivers. One man told Barnhill that a female friend of his was kidnapped in an Uber, wherein he drove right past her street and wouldn’t stop the car upon request; eventually, the woman had to jump out of the moving car. Another man shared the story of his wife jumping out of a car going 50 mph because the driver kept making disturbing comments and eventually unlocked the doors and said, “Go ahead, you crazy bitch.”

These are just a handful of events that have occurred during rideshares, with some getting more explicit and terrifying. And what has happened after these events? Hardly anything. Most of the replies to customers say that they will no longer match the driver with them in the future. While that’s great for that one person, it’s still an incredible danger to literally everybody else.

A not-that-great ending

As of this morning, Barnhill shared an update on Twitter, letting everyone know that Lyft called her, gave her a full refund, and banned the driver. While this is all well and good, it still isn’t enough, as this man also drives for Uber. When this was mentioned by Barnhill, she said their response was, “We can’t help that.” Lovely. Not to mention, it seemed that Lyft only reached out to Barnhill after she had posted her story online and it had been shared hundreds of times. But what about all of the women who don’t share their stories or have thousands of followers to retweet their experiences? What about the women who get in vehicles and are unknowingly locked in because the driver has the child safety locks on? (Yes, that’s a thing — albeit mostly uncommon — and it’s as alarming as it sounds.)

The future is female

Thankfully, many are already taking steps to creating safer rideshare programs that cater specifically to women. Apps like Gosafr, DriveHer, and She Taxis are providing peace of mind for women who want to avoid the leering eyes of men in the driver’s seat. Unfortunately, these services are not available in some areas, leading to women relying on “the big two” for rides. What ultimately needs to happen is that Lyft and Uber should do more intensive background checks and have actual real human people available to handle any complaints instead of an AI response. Barnhill noted that both companies don’t have their own vehicle nor do they have liability insurance. Why? I think we all know the answer to that question: money.