Customers can be assaulted or in an accident while taking any form of public transit in New Jersey – whether riding a bus, taking the subway or hailing a traditional taxi. However, you may want to know more about how newer ridesharing services measure up.

The International Foundation for Protection Officers discusses how there may be gaps in the protections offered to consumers by ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber. For example, when you download the Uber app, you might not realize that the terms and conditions protect the company from liability for injuries resulting from an accident or assault caused by the driver. Some authorities claim that many customers are not aware of their legal protections – or lack thereof – when they use one of these services. They say that these services do not always report criminal incidents involving their drivers to law enforcement, and that some background checks failed to identify drivers with criminal records. This is disturbing, considering a 2018 report by CNN Business that revealed that 103 U.S. Uber drivers were accused of sexually abusing or assaulting customers in the past four years.

If you plan to take an Uber or Lyft, safety advocates recommend the following:

  • Have an emergency exit plan and always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Ride with a friend.
  • Check the driver’s name, license plate and make, model and color of the vehicle with the information provided on the app.
  • Sit in the backseat.
  • Never share personal identifying information with the driver.
  • Text a friend or family member that you will be using the service and when you expect to get to your destination.

There is no reason you should completely avoid using a helpful ridesharing service, but it is wise to be prepared and informed.