CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Hundreds of people will turn to Uber and Lyft for rides in and around Cleveland during MLB All-Star Week.
19 News is checking on the latest ways you can protect yourself when you order a rideshare.
Both rideshare companies have made changes since a South Carolina college student was killed after calling an Uber ride back in March.
Samantha Josephson got into a car, thinking it was her Uber ride.
But police say the driver wasn't with Uber and he murdered her and dumped her body in the woods.
Local cases of assault
19 News found a few recent local cases of assaults involving rideshares here in Northeast Ohio.
An Akron woman reported her Uber driver raped her after driving her home in 2017.
Brandon Franklin was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.
This past May in Independence, a driver reported an assault.
She told police a passenger tried to touch her and pulled her hair.
The driver didn't want to press any charges, and the suspect was charged with disorderly conduct for intoxication.
We requested incidents involving Uber and Lyft drivers from Cleveland Police, they told us they don't track the job occupations of suspects or victims, so they had no records for us.
New safety features
Uber and Lyft announced new safety policies after Samantha Josephson’s murder.
Lyft started continuous driver background checks. Uber already had this in place.
Uber now sends out three alerts to riders urging them to check the car matches before they get inside.
19 News also found Uber has a panic-911 feature in the app and Lyft is rolling this out soon too.
There are three things you need to do before getting into an Uber or Lyft.
First, check the make, model and license plate of the car and make sure it matches what you see on the app.
Next, check the driver's photo, then ask them "What's my name?"
That's something Marcus Brown already does.
“I make sure they know who I am, so I ask them who they're waiting for or who they're here to pick up. If they say my name, I feel safe enough to get in the back seat,” he said.
Dawn Fanger says she does that too.
“I'm always making sure I'm verifying the license plate number, making sure I know who's picking me up. And with Lyft they have a light up in the window, so it makes me feel a little bit better that I'm meeting the person I'm supposed to, so,” she said.
Abbie Ellis doesn't think twice when it comes to ordering an Uber or Lyft ride over a cab.
“I think they're just more easily available and they're a little bit quicker. It's just more convenient for me,” Ellis said.
But she still thinks about her safety every time she gets into one of their cars.
“I also always let a friend or someone else know that I'm getting into one so they're able to track me just in case,” she said.
Barcodes on rideshares
In New Jersey, where Samantha Josephson was from, a new law requires rideshare drivers identify their vehicles with reflective or light up signs in the front and back of their cars.
The law also requires drivers carry barcode ID cards, unique to them, that must be scanned to confirm the driver’s identity.
That barcode must be displayed on their rear windows.
You can read more about Sami’s Law here.
Uber and Lyft’s response on safety
"Lyft is thrilled to welcome the All-Star game to Cleveland this year. With a busy week ahead, our mission is to improve people's lives with the world's best transportation and help attendees seamlessly move around Cleveland. As always, safety is fundamental to Lyft and we look forward to providing affordable and reliable rides,” said a Lyft spokesperson.
Lyft says it will have ambassadors across the city at the following locations:
• Cleveland Hopkins Airport: Visitors can look for Lyft brand ambassadors in baggage claim for guidance to the rideshare pick-up area and obtain a promo code for 20% off their ride.
• Progressive Field: The designated Lyft pick-up and drop-off area for events happening at Progressive Field can be found across the street at Erie Ct. Ambassadors will be handing out codes for 15% off one ride.
• Playball Park: Lyft will have a designated pick-up and drop-off location for events taking place at Playball Park and Huntington Convention Center on W. 3rd Street. Ambassadors will be handing out cards for 10% off one Lyft ride.
You can read more about Lyft’s safety measures here.
Uber sent 19 News the following information when it comes to safety built into the Uber app:
• Driver/Car Information - Riders are given the driver’s name, photo, make and model of the car and license plate number when they request a trip.
• GPS Tracking - Each trip is GPS tracked so there is a record of the trip and pertinent information is included on the receipt and trip history.
• Share Trip Feature - Riders and drivers can share their trip so friends and family are able to follow them on a map in real time, and know when they’ve arrived.
• Anonymized Contacts - We use technology to anonymize phone numbers when riders and drivers contact each other through the app. Additionally, we’ve taken steps to anonymize exact pick-up and drop-off addresses in the driver’s trip history.
• Cross-Street Feature - Riders can use cross-streets as pick-up and drop-off locations for an added layer of privacy.
• Two-Way Feedback - We have a two-way feedback system where riders and drivers can rate each other and provide comments. This information is reviewed by our 24-7 support team so we can take necessary action if needed.
Uber also noted the new safety features they added over the past year:
-Centralizing safety information in the app
-An emergency button for 911 assistance
-Re-running driving and criminal background screening annually and monitoring of new offense data
-A new Ride Check feature, address anonymization and two-factor authentication
For drivers, Uber has an emergency button, share trip feature, and 911 integration technology.
You can read more about Uber’s safety measures here.