By Jim DeLa
While ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are a convenient way for students to get around town, campus police are sharing some common sense advice to stay safe.
Campus Police Chief Michael Kessie says his department is participating in an initiative from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, of which New College is a member. “We know that ride-sharing is being used by the campus community,” he said, adding ride services can be useful. “We encourage students to use these services. Just think about some things. Be aware.”
The National Crime Prevention Council and Young Minds Inspired are also teaming up to share information on ride-hailing services as well as general campus safety.
Tips recently posted on the Campus Police website include where to wait for a ride, making sure your driver matches the service’s app; and to pay attention. “Be prepared, not paranoid,” Kessie said. “Have a plan. If you’re uncomfortable, call us (ext. 4210) or call 911 if you’re off campus.”
Plan ahead: Before you request a ride, think about where you are going and review the safety features in the app so you know how to use them.
Request your ride inside: Avoid spending unnecessary time outside alone with your phone in your hand. Instead, wait indoors until the app shows your driver has arrived.
Get in the right car: Before you get in the car, check that the driver name, license plate, and driver photo all match what is listed in the app. Never get in to a car that does not match the information listed in the ride share app.
Be a backseat rider: If you’re riding alone, sit in the backseat. This ensures that you can safely exit either side of the vehicle to avoid moving traffic, and it gives you and your driver some personal space.
Buckle up: The seatbelt is the most effective way to save your life in a traffic accident and reduce injuries.
Share trip details with a friend: While en route, tap “Share Status” in the app to share your driver’s name, license plate, photo, and location with a friend or family member. They can track your status even if they haven’t downloaded the app.
Protect personal information: There’s no need to share your phone number or other personal information with the driver. If the driver and rider need to contact each other only use the app. The app anonymizes both phone numbers to protect everyone’s privacy.
Follow your intuition: Trust your instincts and use your best judgment when ride sharing. If you ever feel you’re in an emergency situation call 911 immediately.
Review/Give feedback: Review feedback given from past riders on your driver prior to their arrival. After your trip leave feedback on your experience so future riders know what to expect. Always check the driver’s profile in the app.
Confirm names: Before getting into the car ask the driver, “Who are you here to pick up?” Make sure they have the correct name before entering the car.
Strength in numbers: If you can, try traveling with a friend. If you must go alone remember to use the “Share Status” feature with friends or family.
Keep your wits about you: Getting extremely impaired increases your chances of something going wrong during or after the ride.
Location: Make sure that you are in a well-lit safe location when getting picked up or dropped off. Be careful for oncoming traffic and always exit on the safest side of the vehicle.
Don’t be afraid to get out: If you are in the car and you already spot a red flag or two don’t be afraid to end the ride early. Look for opportunities where you can easily escape.
Communication: Don’t be afraid to ask more questions to your driver. Proper communication is important.
— Jim DeLa is digital communications coordinator at New College of Florida.