GW Offers Safety Tips for Rideshare Service Users

Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell says verifying vehicles is crucial.

September 17, 2014

By Lauren Ingeno

Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft can be convenient, affordable methods for late-night travel in Washington, D.C. But Darrell Darnell, senior associate vice president for safety and security, urges students to be cautious before stepping into a vehicle with an unknown driver.

The George Washington University Police Department has received reports of incidents in the past 30 days involving drivers who pretended they were working for a ridesharing service. 

“It typically happens at night. Someone requests a ride using a mobile app, a vehicle pulls up and the person will get into the car without verifying that the driver is who he or she requested,” Mr. Darnell said.

D.C. residents have also reported incidents in which criminals posed as taxi drivers in order to steal from victims. A Maryland man recently pleaded guilty to a scheme in which he picked up young adults in D.C. neighborhoods, convinced them he was a taxi driver and stole their credit cards, the Washington Post reported in August.

To stay safe when traveling at night, members of the GW community should travel as a group, carry identification and be aware of their surroundings by avoiding texting or listening to music while walking, Mr. Darnell said. The university’s safety and security mobile app GW PAL, which launched in August, allows users to send rapid, location-specific alerts to the GWPD dispatch. The app is available for free download. 

When using ridesharing services, Mr. Darnell encourages students to:

  • Ask the driver his or her name before entering the vehicle.
  • Compare the photo provided by the rideshare company with the driver.
  • Ensure the car you are entering matches the car and the license plate number indicated by the rideshare app.
  • Check the rating of the driver to determine if you want to use that vehicle.
  • Know where to file complaints against the driver if needed.

“There is nothing wrong with using ridesharing services,” Mr. Darnell said. “Students just need to make sure that the vehicle they’re getting into is the actual vehicle that they requested.”

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