Ridesharing is undeniably convenient. Using your smartphone, you can hail a ride, tell them exactly where you are and where you’re going, and pay your bill without even having to get your wallet out. However, you’re also technically getting into a stranger’s car. Because of this, and because ridesharing is relatively new, it makes a lot of people hesitant to use it over other, more traditional forms of public transportation.
On the same note, ridesharing is an excellent side or full-time gig for drivers, especially those in bustling cities where most people don’t have their own car. However, drivers have their own safety concerns. They can feel nervous and vulnerable letting a complete stranger into their personal vehicle.
How can HR professionals mitigate risks and provide peace of mind to both rideshare employees and customers? Let’s dive deeper into the issues at play:
The business responsibilities of ridesharing
Passengers and drivers should always feel safe in the car, and both sides should have a level of professionalism — this is a business transaction, after all. While you can’t control every single thing that happens during a rideshare trip, there are ways to create boundaries and guidelines so everything runs as smoothly as possible. Because of this, HR departments should create policies for normal rideshare situations as well as emergencies to keep all parties safe, comfortable and aware of what to expect. Remember that conflict resolution is key: When issues escalate, HR professionals must resolve the manner in a compassionate and reasonable manner.
Furthermore, it’s important for ridesharing companies — and all companies, for that matter — to recognize when and where they’re failing and make steps to improve. This happened to Uber, but instead of closing their doors or fighting criticism with defensiveness, they shifted gears and fixed the issues that had been plaguing the company. While it’s still not a perfect company, they have made efforts to improve their reputation and decrease risk.
Tech improves road safety for vehicles
There are all sorts of ridesharing-related safety concerns that companies have to troubleshoot, and one of them is basic road safety. Uber uses technology to make it safer for everyone on the road, including riders, drivers, and other vehicles. For example, drivers can use audio commands to contact passengers without having to use their hands or look at their phone.
The Ride Check feature is especially intuitive and useful. Ride Check auto-detects the vehicle’s speed and knows when the car is stopped for an abnormally long time. The app will text the passenger to ask if he or she needs help. The passenger can then say that the driver has purposely stopped and everything’s fine or that they want a new Uber, have been in a crash, or need to call 911.
This technology is used beyond ridesharing. Logistics-based businesses, like those in shipping and trucking, use third-party logistics (3PL) systems for a number of tasks, many of them related to keeping roads and personal data safe. For example, always-updated GPS systems means that routes can be planned more efficiently, keeping drivers on the road for less time.
Rideshare passengers and drivers need to stay safe from sexual harassment
Ridesharing is especially helpful for young adults who opt for a Lyft or Uber after a night of drinking. But while it can cut down on drunk drivers, there’s a different type of threat: sexual harassment. Intoxicated people are in the back of a stranger’s car, trusting them to go where they’re supposed to. It’s also easier than you think to mistake a regular car for a rideshare you ordered, and if the driver is a predator, passengers can get themselves into a lot of trouble.
Females are particularly prone to sexual harassment (or worse), whether they’re the passenger or the driver of the car. It’s also daunting that if you get a ride home, the driver then knows where you live. As the number of misconduct reports has risen, rideshare companies have made changes to policies to protect all parties, such as:
- Branding that’s placed in the car window to indicate it’s a rideshare vehicle.
- Photos and names of drivers so the passenger can confirm it’s the car they ordered. Passengers can also confirm the car through the vehicle type and license plate number.
- Riders can share their ride status with a friend so that someone outside of the car knows where the passenger is. The passenger can then confirm when they arrive at their destination.
- Two-way rating system (as opposed to only passengers being able to rate drivers) so everyone is aware of past experiences and potential threats.
- 24-hour response line in case there’s a problem. Individuals can use this service to share a harassment claim and are encouraged to do so in all instances where they feel uncomfortable, just like they would in any work setting. Also, an in-app emergency button can immediately call 911.
HR departments can also provide passengers and drivers with basic safety information. For example, each party should ask the other person’s name to confirm it’s the right person.
When done right, ridesharing and related tech are convenient options for passengers and logistics companies, as well as a lucrative gig for drivers. Safety has to be prioritized over growth and flashy marketing, though. From preventing sexual harassment to enhancing road safety features, every rider and driver has a right to a safe trip to their destination.