When using ride-shares always be aware, take precautions

MORGANTOWN — Ride-share services, such as Uber and Lyft, are supposed to be safe.
Both services say they perform background checks on drivers. However, at the end of the day, you’re still getting into a car with a stranger and should be alert, Morgantown Deputy Police Chief Eric Powell said.
Not every problem with a driver is a crime.
WVU alum Kensey Bergdorf, 23, was visiting Morgantown in April when she took an Uber with her boyfriend and a group of friends. The ride started normally, but left her uncomfortable and scared to confront her driver, she said.
What began as small talk about the strange things ride share drivers see late at night ended up with the driver telling Bergdorf lewd stories, including his favorite, about a time he committed sexual acts with a drunk woman whose husband was in the car, she said. The driver also told Bergdorf he had a concealed carry permit and had to draw the weapon on people who tried to assault him.
“I had been basically in shock for the entire story, and honestly, I was afraid to confront him to let him know that what he was bragging about was rape because of his former mention of having a concealed carry.”
Bergdorf said she was afraid to report him right away because he knew where her boyfriend lived, so she messaged Uber support to see if she could report the driver, even though her boyfriend ordered the Uber. The company told her their privacy policy did not allow that.
“That’s when I sent out the tweets warning people to be careful,” Bergdorf said.
Her tweets identified the car and a brief description of the events she experienced, warning them to be careful of the particular driver.
“Since the tweet, other drivers reached out and offered to push the report through driver support as well,” Bergdorf said. “Many other women tweeted or DM’d me stories about the same driver, and some went back to report him after realizing that it wasn’t just one bad ride.”
Bergdorf’s boyfriend also reported the driver about an hour after the ride ended, she said.
She said the police aren’t involved, to her knowledge. Powell said MPD has only received one incident with a ride-share driver this year, a DUI-related vehicle crash.
Peggy Runyon, community relations coordinator for the University Police Department, said UPD has not received any ride-share complaints this year.
She said the first thing ride-share users should think about is personal safety.
Make sure someone knows who you’re with, where you are and what ride-share you’re using.
The free LiveSafe app allows the police to find you in case of an emergency, Runyon said.
Both law enforcement officials said safety starts with awareness. They recommended making sure the car you’re getting into is the ride you requested. Match the information, such as the license plate and make and model, on your ride share app to the car you’re about to get into.
Runyon said riders should sit in the back seat since it offers more options if a rider feels the need to get out of the vehicle during the ride. She also said not to share too much information with the driver, such as if you live alone and how much money you have on hand.
Runyon also suggested using a navigation app to make sure the driver is taking you where he should
“If you have any doubt, do not get into the vehicle. Simply leave,” Powell said.
Twitter @WillDean_DP

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