Ride-Sharing Safety Tips for Female Students

Ride-Sharing Safety Tips for Female Students

Studying overseas has been a growing trend among students for years now. Even young women are traveling thousands of miles to study in their dream university.

Some of the most popular countries to study abroad include the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), Italy, France, Japan, and Spain. These countries offer excellent education that is in line with the evolving world.

Not only that but other reasons for choosing these countries include cultural diversity, historical significance, opportunities to travel, and a future-oriented curriculum.

Most of these countries also have a well-connected public transport system. This includes trains, buses, trams, rented bikes, and so on. Some even have highly walkable communities.

This makes it easy and affordable for female students to travel around the city. However, it is not uncommon to find oneself in a situation where taking a cab for transit becomes a must. Ride-sharing services are available for such times of emergency.

In fact, the ride-sharing services market is expanding at a CAGR of more than 17% till 2032. North America is leading the world in terms of a growing ride-sharing market. However, there can be risks involved in availing such services.

In this article, we will discuss these inherent risks and how female students can ensure their safety.

How Safe Are Ride-Sharing Services for Women?

Ride-sharing services are an efficient means to commute within a city (or from one city to another). Female students may use such services on a daily basis or for emergencies (to avoid being late to class).

They may also use a ride hailing partner for some fun around town during the weekends. However, passenger safety from a woman’s perspective involves one major concern – that of sexual harassment or assault.

Do such incidents happen? Yes, as is made evident by rising cases of Uber sexual assault. This ride-sharing service is highly popular, with 131 million active monthly users. The company even owns 74% of the ride-sharing market.

Even so, women have complained of ‘severe kinds of sexual assaults.’ According to TorHoerman Law, these include –

  • Non-consensual sexual penetration (even attempted)
  • Non-consensual kissing
  • Non-consensual touching of a sexual body part

Victims of such cases have filed a lawsuit against the ride-hailing partner. They have alleged that Uber has the ability and responsibility to adopt tighter safety measures, but its response to even the most severe cases has been slow and inadequate.

Some factors only contribute towards such sexual assault cases. These include –

  • ‘High crime hours’, which include weekend nights when riders are likely to be intoxicated
  • A lack of partition between the driver and the rider
  • The employment model mostly involves independent contractors rather than full-time employees
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5 Safety Tips Every Female Student Must Follow While Hailing a Cab

Just like the risk of sexual harassment via ride-sharing is high, usage of such services shows no signs of slowing down. This is because such services offer a more efficient commute. It is crucial for women to follow certain safety measures strictly.

Let’s look at five safety tips that every female student must follow (when they choose a ride-sharing service like Uber).

Share Your Location

While you’re hailing a cab by yourself, you need a maximum number of eyes on you. After availing of a ride, switch on your location. However, merely doing that will not let your family and friends know where you are in real time.

You must share your live location with them so that they can see you through your commute. Apps such as Life360 are highly advanced as they send automatic place and ETA alerts to your loved ones. If the stats don’t line up, your friend or family can take some action.

Verify the Driver’s Identity and Vehicle Details

Before you enter the driver’s car, ensure their identity (and information) matches what you see in the app. Run a quick review of the following for the assurance that you have the right driver –

  • Their name
  • Their real-life look matching their picture in the app
  • Their license plate number
  • Who they wish to pick up (let them say your name first instead of the other way around)

If any of these details do not match what you see in the app, refrain from entering their vehicle. There are too many counterfeits roaming around to dupe women. In other words, cars have pretended to be Uber only to harm the woman. This mainly happens when the rider does not verify the driver’s info. So, never compromise on this step.

Be Alert and Aware of Your Surroundings

Once inside the car, it is important to pay full attention to where the driver is taking you. This can make a huge difference in your safety. Once inside the vehicle, stay vigilant of your surroundings.

Avoid spending too much time on the phone or engaging in other kinds of distracting activities. Switch on your GPS and see if the route the driver is taking aligns with the expected path.

Also, never try to make up for lost sleep during such rides! It will put you in a situation so vulnerable that you may lose track of the surroundings, and the driver may view that as an opportunity.

Become Familiar with Emergency Tools and Features

Though prevention is the best safety measure, you must also be prepared for an uncomfortable or dangerous situation. There are technological tools (smartphone apps) available for such times.

They come with the feature of SOS alerts to notify your closest (emergency) contacts in case of any danger. Some even include the feature of calling 911 directly without having to dial first. Have such apps installed on your phone (even if you have to pay for their services).

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Travel in Groups Whenever Possible

Even in general, it is always safer to travel with fellow students. You can commute to and from class with classmates from university or preparatory school.

This does not merely apply to class. If you wish to explore the city during the weekend or enjoy a night out, do so with trusted friends.

On a side note, if you plan on traveling solo to a nearby city, search for reliable travel groups. For example – AdventureWomen is a women-only travel group organizer through which solo travelers can plan trips across six continents. Just a group of two or three women is enough to ensure your safety (and theirs).

As we close, it’s important to mention that educational opportunities for women have increased more than ever. Female students are breaking all geographical boundaries to pursue their aspirations.

The only thing to keep in mind is safety. Sexual assault occurrences against women during ride-sharing are not new.

As governmental authorities and ride-sharing companies work towards establishing greater safety measures, women can take some steps to foolproof them.

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