A little over a week ago, a college student in South Carolina was murdered after she mistakenly entered a car she thought was her Uber.
Millions of people use rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft, whether they’re the drivers or passenger.
But as it increases in popularity, so do stories of safety.
One Hawaii driver stopped driving for ride-share apps after a terrifying experience back in February.
Amy Laurel-Hegy was an Uber and Lyft driver for over five years.
She says she’s driven in places like Philadelphia and California—but her horrifying experience happened when she picked up a man at a car dealership on a Sunday afternoon on the Leeward side.
She said almost halfway through the ride she started getting a weird feeling about the man sitting in her passenger seat.
She was on H-3 heading to Kaneohe when he wanted her to start driving faster.
“We got through the tunnels and he took his hands, reached across to my side, and pushed my leg onto the accelerator,” she said.
Once they got off the highway, he told her to turn onto random streets.
“He took control of my wheel and pushed me across traffic and made me turn left,” Hegy said.
Her phone fell into her lap while she made the turn. She was able to dial 911.
She had an ear piece in so she could communicate with dispatch.
Worrying the man would harm her, she tried to communicate in code with dispatch, giving dispatch hints as to where she was.
Once dispatch heard the man in the background and understood what was happening, dispatch told Hegy to get out of the car.
She unbuckled her seatbelt but hid it slightly under her arm so the man wouldn’t see. Once she saw a side street, she pulled over, put her car in park and jumped out of her car.
The man also took off.
She waited for police to arrive but kept her app open so she would still be connected with the driver.
Once police arrived, she wanted to report the passenger to Lyft, but couldn’t call with the app open.
The man called Hegy back minutes later asking for another ride. He gave her his location and description of what he was wearing. Police then drove to him and apprehended him.
“He was admitted for being a danger to himself and to others,” Hegy said.
She says you never know who you’re picking up and the same goes for passengers getting into cars.
“Anybody standing around on a street corner is a potential victim for a predator,” said Larry Ikei, former rideshare driver and taxi driver. “It’s so easy to intercept any of these rides too because everyone has a sticker and anyone can get Lyft light.”
He says it’s worse for women waiting outside alone and on their phone waiting for their Uber because anyone with a sticker can pull up pretending to be the driver.
“We’ve got a lot of safety factors that need to be addressed now,” he said.
After the incident in South Carolina, Uber sent out a safety reminder.
1) Waiting inside for your ride – so you’re not vulnerable for someone else to offer you a ride
2) Double check the license plate and car with what your app reads
3) Sit in the backseat
4) Share your status with friends or family, a new feature on some of the apps
5) Trust your instincts
6) Rate your driver and passengers so others can be aware of who is getting into their car and who you’re picking up.
Another safety step is not disclosing your name, the driver will know your name if they’re supposed to be picking you up.
In Hawaii, an Uber sticker must be placed on the driver side rear windshield—so double check before you get in.