Is Lyft or Uber Safer for Riders?

The gig economy in the US has flourished exponentially in recent years. A Pew Research Center study revealed at least 16 percent of American adults have worked for an online gig platform. It includes jobs like delivering or shopping for groceries, driving for a rideshare app, performing household tasks, etc.

Gig platforms classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees, triggering controversies and fierce legal battles. Despite the lack of job security and benefits, many continue to use these platforms, like ridesharing apps for work.

Approximately five percent of gig workers have driven for ride-hailing or rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft. The demand for more rideshare drivers is primarily due to the increasing number of customers nationwide.

According to Business of Apps, Lyft had 20.3 million active customers in 2022. Meanwhile, Uber completed 7.6 billion trips in the same year.

As rideshare services continue to grow more popular in the country, so is the number of safety issues that customers report. Safety concerns like physical and sexual assault and traffic accidents have plagued rideshare services.

Without a doubt, companies like Uber and Lyft have been dominating the rideshare industry. Consumers might be wondering which is the safer option between the two. This article looks deeper into the companies’ safety reports to consider which platform is better for riders.

Suppose you, a family member, or a loved one were injured in a traffic accident while using a ride-hailing app. The best approach is to contact a personal injury lawyer to file a personal injury claim. Law firms typically provide free case consultations to potential clients before they take on your case.

Key Takeaways
  • Thousands of people reported safety issues while using Uber and Lyft, like physical and sexual assault.
  • Rideshare services have in-app features to address threats to passenger safety.
  • Rideshare drivers and companies may be liable for a passenger’s injuries in a car accident.

Have you recently been injured in an accident?

What is ridesharing?

Ridesharing is like hailing a taxi. But instead of catching a ride on the sidewalk, you can book a trip on your smartphone or personal computer. Rideshare apps typically offer two services: private rides and carpooling. 

Private rides are most similar to taxi services. They provide rides to a particular destination that you request and pick you up at your location. Meanwhile, carpooling occurs when people travel to a specific place in their vehicle and rent out the remaining seats.

With rideshare apps, customers only need to make an account and input their destination. It then automatically matches the customer with the driver nearest to them.

The app also shows trip fares upfront depending on the vehicle type they are requesting. For instance, riders can select a shared ride, a four-seater, an SUV, or a more luxurious vehicle.

Uber started as a limo service in early 2010. They tested the service in New York with only three cars before officially launching in San Francisco a few months after. It was not until 2012 that they launched UberX, offering a less expensive option to their black car service.

On the other hand, Lyft began as one of the services of a carpooling company called Zimride in 2012. The company officially changed its name to Lyft in 2013

Safety Measures Rideshare Companies Use

Rideshare companies employ safety measures to ensure passenger safety. They implement company-wide policies, rules, and regulations to provide the safest riding conditions for their customers and drivers. 

Background checks

Rideshare apps vet potential drivers before the company hires them. For instance, Uber and Lyft app drivers must complete a background check by a third-party company before they can drive for the company. Checkr evaluates an applicant’s social security number and driver’s license to review their criminal record and driving report.

Serious convictions, including sexual assault, kidnapping, and murder, ultimately disqualify a potential driver. Rideshare companies may also bar potential drivers from driving for them due to the following crimes:

  • Violent crimes, including arson, human trafficking, burglary, robbery, and carjacking
  • Sexual offenses like possession of child pornography and rape
  • Terrorism
  • Driving while intoxicated with drugs or alcohol
  • Drug- and fraud-related offenses

In addition, state laws may also influence which factors block a driver from working with a rideshare company.

Generally, Uber hires potential drivers over the age of 25, provided that they have a minimum of one year of driving experience. Those younger than 23 should be licensed drivers of more than three years. If an applicant has a suspended license, they are not eligible to apply for Uber.

On the other hand, Lyft accepts potential drivers with a minimum age requirement of 21 to 25, depending on the region. They also follow state laws that require a minimum of one year of driving experience. These include California, Illinois, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

Emergency buttons

Rideshare services provide a safety hotline for passengers who are in possible danger. For example, Uber has a critical safety response phone number that riders can call in an emergency.

More importantly, both the Lyft and Uber apps have integrated emergency buttons that they may use to connect with 911 automatically. The app will alert an emergency dispatcher with their real-time location and other relevant details if requested. It includes the driver’s name, car’s license plate number, make and model, and trip destination.

Both rideshare apps provide 24/7 customer support via chat or phone to address urgent safety concerns.

Zero tolerance policies

Uber and Lyft implement zero-tolerance policies to make rides safer for passengers. It seeks to resolve safety issues, especially suspected impaired driving.

Suppose a passenger reports a driver for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In that case, they may lose access to the rideshare platform. 

For example, say the company investigated and found proof that a driver violated the policy against impaired driving. In that case, the rideshare company may permanently bar that driver from the platform.

Additional safety features

Apart from those mentioned, rideshare apps consistently employ more safety features and policies to ensure passenger safety. These include the following:

  • The platform tracks your trip via GPS. For Lyft specifically, route deviations or long stops will trigger a notification to see if the passenger needs help.
  • Share your trip details and real-time location with family members or trusted contacts.
  • See the driver’s profile, including their name, photo, and ratings.
  • Drivers and riders can rate each other and may be removed from the platform for consistently low ratings. For Lyft specifically, rating the other with three stars or fewer ensures that you won’t be riding with them again.
  • The rideshare app prevents drivers and riders from seeing your personal information, especially phone numbers. 
  • During the onset of the pandemic, the rideshare companies implemented health-related safety protocols like wearing face masks.

Common Ridesharing Safety Issues

Despite these policies and nearly perfect safety records, Uber and Lyft continue to deal with untoward incidents. The New York Times reported 20 assault-related deaths and 101 crash fatalities in Uber trips between 2019 and 2020. It excludes 3,824 sexual assault cases that passengers reported to its U.S. platform.

Lyft reports show a similar pattern from 2017 to 2019, with 10 assault-related and 105 car accident fatalities. It also detailed more than 4,158 incidents of sexual assault. 

The driver’s method of driving also raises concerns for passengers. Riders have raised concerns for the following reasons:

  • Driver’s lack of focus on the road
  • Speeding
  • Traversing the busiest route

Traffic fatalities

Uber and Lyft safety reports detailed at least 99 percent of their trips ended safely, and 0.0002 percent resulted in critical safety incidents. However, this data does not tally injuries.

In particular, Lyft’s most recent data stated they received 83 reports of motor vehicle fatalities in 2018 and 2019. Meanwhile, 91 fatal Uber crashes resulted in 101 deaths from 2019 to 2020.

Physical assault

Uber’s safety report further revealed they recorded 19 fatal physical assault cases resulting in 20 fatalities from 2019 to 2020. Of these recorded incidents, 15 were customers, while five were drivers. Meanwhile, Lyft recorded seven fatal physical assaults from 2018 to 2019.

In 2021, a female Uber driver in South Florida was reportedly beaten up by a male passenger. The altercation resulted in the passenger allegedly spitting and punching her in the face.  

Sexual assault

Passengers and drivers reported 3,824 sexual assault cases to Uber between 2019 and 2020. Riders were liable for almost half of the incidents, or 43 percent. Meanwhile, Lyft logged 3,062 incidents from 2018 to 2019 but did not distinguish if the victim was the driver or passenger.

Uber and Lyft use the following five categories for sexual assault:

  • Non-consensual sexual penetration
  • Non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part
  • Non-consensual touching of a sexual body part
  • Attempted non-consensual penetration, clothing removal, and fragmented or incomplete reports
  • Non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part 

In 2021, an armed man kidnapped and sexually assaulted an Uber driver in Chicago. Two cases filed in San Francisco involved riders who sexually assaulted their female Lyft drivers.

Data breach

Ridesharing platforms typically retain critical information about their users that unauthorized parties can use in a crime, such as identity theft. A breach of their databases can significantly harm users, so the company must ensure data security.

In 2020, a criminal complaint was filed against Joseph Sullivan, former Uber Chief Security Officer. The federal court charged Sullivan with obstruction of justice and misprision of a felony. The case was in connection with the data breach of Uber Technologies Incorporated in 2016.

Misprision of a felony occurs when a person is aware of a commission of a felony and conceals or delays notifying authorities. In this case, Sullivan intentionally concealed the breach from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

According to the Northern District of California Attorney’s Office, two hackers contacted Sullivan. They had accessed the personally identifying information of about 57 million Uber customers and drivers from the company database. 

The hackers demanded a six-figure payment in exchange for silence, which Sullivan paid. Sullivan committed a crime by not informing the FTC, essentially covering up for the hackers.

Who will be liable for my injuries?

Uber or Lyft drivers are generally like any other motorist on the road. If they disobeyed traffic laws like speeding, driving under the influence, etc., they would be liable to pay for damages.

However, liability for rideshare accidents can quickly shift from one party to another, depending on the context of the incident. The rideshare drivers’ status as independent contractors instead of employees blurs the lines of liability, especially for personal injury lawsuits.

Generally, three scenarios determine who is liable for an accident in a ridesharing context.

Driver not logged in

Suppose the driver is not logged on to the app while driving. Then the rideshare company will not be liable for any accident they may cause. In case of an accident, the driver will have to connect with their insurance company for liability coverage.

Driver logged in, no passenger

Suppose the driver logs on to the app and waits for a passenger. In that case, the company may be liable for the accident. However, if the driver has not received a match, the driver’s insurance company will have to cover them. Only when the driver’s insurance does not cover them will the rideshare company accept liability up to policy limits.

Driver logged in, with passenger

Suppose a driver is on the way to a booking or transporting a passenger when an incident occurs. The company’s insurance policy will cover any losses and injuries incurred in that case.

Suppose a third party is at fault for a ridesharing accident. In that case, injured victims may seek damages from their insurance provider instead.

Safety Tips for Rideshare App Users

Booking a trip through a rideshare app may be a wiser alternative in specific scenarios. For instance, you won’t need to drive home after a night out or a 16-hour duty at work. However, both drivers and passengers may be subject to safety risks when using a rideshare service.

To ensure your safety as much as possible, you can take the following steps while availing of a rideshare service:

  • Book and wait for your ride indoors, especially at night. Be sure to only communicate with the driver through the app.
  • Confirm the vehicle’s license plate number before you enter the car. Likewise, you can double-check if the person inside is the same as the one displayed in your app.
  • Share your trip details with family or trusted contacts through the app.
  • Follow safety protocols like wearing a seatbelt, keeping your door locked, and paying attention to your surroundings.
  • Always trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, calmly ask the driver to end the ride and pull over. In addition, you can always use the emergency button on your app to request help.

Did you know?

Uber and Lyft employ “surge pricing” or “prime time pricing.” It is where the rideshare app raises or lowers prices depending on supply and demand. Unlike a direct surcharge, this pricing model can result in substantial fare differences. For instance, prices may double or triple during a snowstorm or rush hour.

You Need a Reliable Personal Injury Attorney

It seems clear that Uber and Lyft rideshare services are comparable when it comes to passenger safety. It seems clear that Uber and Lyft rideshare services are comparable regarding passenger safety. Relatively few untoward incidents are associated with both services, so they are generally safe to use.

However, there is no guarantee you will arrive safely at your destination. Rideshare companies may vet potential drivers before hiring them. But it does not eliminate the possibility that they will not commit an unlawful act while on duty. The best approach is always to plan for the worst and stay vigilant when using ride-hailing services.

However, if you were in a rideshare accident, seek legal representation from a credible lawyer from The Personal Injury Center.

If you have any concerns regarding your case, browse through The Personal Injury Center’s collection of legal articles. It has all the information you may need to successfully file a ridesharing accident claim.

You may also book a free consultation with a personal injury attorney for a brief claim review.

Have you recently been injured in an accident?

Let a personal injury lawyer help with your ridesharing accident claim. Contact The Personal Injury Center to find a lawyer for you.

FAQs on Lyft or Uber Being Safer for Riders

No, you may not request a female driver through Uber or Lyft. Usually, the rideshare platform matches you with a driver closest to your location. However, if you feel uncomfortable upon seeing the driver’s profile, you may cancel your trip through the app.

The cost of your Uber or Lyft trip highly varies depending on traffic conditions, trip distance, and time of day. Generally, taxis charge per minute while idling and per mile when moving. Meanwhile, rideshare apps charge per mile and minute, regardless of whether the vehicle is idling or moving.

As a rule, use Uber or Lyft for longer trips moving at a higher speed. Meanwhile, taxis are the best choice for trips in congested cities like New York.

Uber and Lyft let you book a trip via their website, which you can access through your computer’s internet browser. In select areas, Lyft also provides a telephone number that seniors may call to book a ride.