Is Uber safe?

Taxi companies are facing tough competition from a new transport service called Uber.

Is Uber safe?

Uber is a new service that runs much the same way as a taxi, only instead of calling for a cab, users are required to download a smartphone app which they can then use to book a ride.

There has been a fair amount of bad press for Uber lately – some of which is warranted and some of which may simply be scaremongering. So, just who is this new kid on the cab rank?

UberBlack is the company’s original service. It is a premium transport service that is more expensive than a taxi, because you’re actually paying for a ride with a certified chauffeur in a luxury car.

UberX is the company’s less-expensive offering, which it claims can cost up to 50 per cent less than the equivalent taxi ride. While UberBlack employs chauffeurs or taxi drivers who must have specific licences in order to operate, UberX doesn’t have these strict driver requirements.

UberX drivers are subject to screening, such as police and background checks and they must have a valid driver’s license with a clean driving record and comprehensive insurance policies.

There are no real roadworthy tests for UberX cars, whereas taxis must be inspected by mechanics every four to six months. Taxis have two or three GPS devices and security cameras that are hardwired into their systems and cannot be disabled by the driver. In contrast, UberX cars can only be tracked via smartphone.

Taxi drivers are subject to regulation, but that doesn’t necessarily make them saints. However, if you do have a complaint about a traditional cab driver, you can call a dedicated phone number, which by law must be visible in the cab, along with the driver’s full name and ID number.

The safety of Uber may be under scrutiny at the moment, but spokesperson Katie Curran claims that it is simply the victim of a “scaremongering” campaign by the taxi industry.

To stay safe, a further Uber spokesperson Lane Kasselman recommends that riders take advantage of the app's ‘share your ETA’ feature, where family or friends can use the Uber app to watch your journey on a map in real-time. “As soon as your ride is confirmed and the driver is on the way, you can actually input your destination into the app and share that with anyone via text message,” says Kasselman.

Here are some tips for staying safe when traveling by cab or by Uber.

  1. After booking your Uber ride, the Uber app will send a photo of the driver, car and license plate number so you know who to look out for. You can also forward this information on to a friend as further security.
  2. If traveling by Uber, make sure you use the ‘share your ETA’ feature with a friend.
  3. If possible, always catch a cab from a cab rank, or pre-book your cab. This way, your journey will be recorded from departure to destination in a central database.
  4. When you get into your cab or Uber car, check the driver against the identification provided. If your driver refuses to show you ID, don’t get into the car.
  5. Before you go out, put your taxi fare in a safe place separate from the rest of your money. By doing this, you are less likely to spend it during the night, ensuring that you have the fare to get home safely.
  6. When you hop into a cab, let someone know you are on your way. Give them the taxi’s licence number and if possible, make sure someone is waiting for you at your destination.
  7. If you are travelling alone, sit in the back of the vehicle on the opposite side of the driver, so that you can see him / her in the rear-view mirror.
  8. Make sure you don’t give out any of your personal details when chatting to the driver.
  9. If you ever feel threatened or uncomfortable for any reason, ask the driver to stop in a busy area, pay your fare and get out of the car.

Read more about Uber safety.





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    ray from Bondi
    28th Jan 2015
    11:50am
    I have not used the service yet, BUT WILL if I need a taxi, I live in bondi, an inner city suburb and NO TAXIS come when rung, I have been let down so many times that I now catch a bus to bondi junction and then take one from the taxi rank, so any improvement is welcome as far as I am concerned, and yes it is scaremongering because it is a very competitive SAFE service, the person calling for an Uber taxi has his ID verified before the taxi arrives and Uber know exactly who is picking up a person as details are recorded before a person can use the service, I believe it is much safer than hopping in some random taxi.
    Gra
    28th Jan 2015
    12:05pm
    Do some research Ray. The Uber service isn't as safe as you think it is. You wouldn't be covered by insurance for a start if you happened to be injured and your driver was at fault. There are no police checks conducted on the Uber drivers so who knows what the person who is picking you up is like. At least registered taxi drivers have had all these checks done and you are covered by insurance.
    It isn't scaremongering, it is just stating the facts.
    Gra
    28th Jan 2015
    12:07pm
    Of course Uber are going to try and dismiss this as scaremongering, they don't want people to be aware of the real truth of the situation. Give me a registered taxi any day.
    particolor
    28th Jan 2015
    1:02pm
    The first sign of a Bearded Dragon !! And I'm outta there !!
    B5YCK
    28th Jan 2015
    12:47pm
    Uber is illegal, it operates outside the law.
    Their drivers are not accredited, nor do they belong to a radio network, nor do their cars neeed the vigorous testing as applies to registered taxis, nor do they pay the government any fees applicable to the legally operating taxi industry for them to operate this sort of transport.
    Any of their profits is going overseas and this illegal operation disadvantages the honest taxi drivers who operate legally.
    The fact that Uber thumbs its nose against the laws of the state shows what sort of a gangster operation uber is.
    The present legal taxi service operates within the law, uber does not.
    Reeper
    28th Jan 2015
    2:17pm
    If the taxi industry was serious it would stop bitching about Uber and start providing a quality service which could very possibly drive Uber out of the market. At present, Uber have it all over many taxi's despite some issues with Uber as a whole
    ray from Bondi
    31st Jan 2015
    1:56pm
    I agree I live in bondi, an inner city suburb and can not book a taxi and be sure it will arrive over the last 10 years I suppose I have had to that 10 times, not once has a taxi arrived I usually have to ring a rival company tell them my story and they usually then have a taxi arrive, customers are treated with complete disdain.
    Blossom
    28th Jan 2015
    2:33pm
    A lot of this is commonsense and it is wise to do these things but how many use cabs and don't think about it. I know I have been guilty of doing it because I haven't had a moble phone for as long as I have been using taxis on a regular basis
    rob101
    28th Jan 2015
    2:38pm
    Uber is NOT safe or legal.they are not subject to Police checks,no matter what Uber says..They do not carry Insurance that covers their Passenger.In fact their Comprehensive insurance would be Void if they tried to make a Claim.And ,yes the profits go overseas.
    I am surprised at Your Life being conned by Uber.They are using Social Media to try and get the Govt. to change the Law in Ubers' favour.It's all about Money for them.
    Stoney
    30th Jan 2015
    9:13pm
    Travel in a certified taxi, and you know you have insurance cover. Not only that, taxi owners pay large sums of money to buy their cab licence, and many of them have these investments as a large part of their retirement portfolio.
    Macca
    22nd Dec 2016
    8:33pm
    As a taxi driver on the Central Coast I wouldn't make as much money if I drove for Uber.Uber claims to be cheapet but oftenn it's not.Especially in high demand or location will price surge.Download taxi app Ihail and compare price then you should be able to see all available cabs in area.By ordering online you should get closet cab irrespective of cab company or go Go catch app.Uber at this time of year will charge you 2 or more times the price so check first.Macca


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles