An incident this week sparked an intense discussion around safety for women rideshare drivers. It all started when a young single mother, driving for Uber to support her child was molested while driving. 48-year-old James Thornton was arrested by Hendersonville police and charged with sexual battery after he touched the female Uber driver inappropriately.
Another female driver from Nashville, Amanda Drewry, stepped out to tell the press that its about time female drivers started to support one another and find ways to be protected during their shifts. Drewry drives for Uber to support her self-published book "Hepburn the downtown dog."
She told the media of an instance that nearly got out of hand during one of her rides. She was driving a passenger home when he started to talk with her. He begged Amanda to come up to his hotel room and even started to offer her money. He went so far as to state he would pay any price she chose, just to come up to his room. Amanda responded when she pulled up to the front of the hotel by demanding he get out of her car or she would taze him. Drewry said that her greatest concern is the possibility a rider will pull out a gun and make demands. She has no way of protecting herself against such an attack.
Drewry went on to say that Nashville is a high tourist venue, and you never know who is coming into your car. A person's background can be concealed from even the most capable eye and a passengers actions are also determined on how much they have drunk before entering the car.
Sgt. Jim Vaughn of the Hendersonville police offered some tips for female passengers:
- If you don't have a dash cam, use your smartphone to take a photo of all your male passengers.
- Set up a call phrase, a single sentence or few words or even a single word you can either text or say when in danger. This will be a call sign for the receiver to notify police you are in danger.
- Designate at least two friends you can call in an emergency, using the call word.
- Have their numbers on speed dial, or use Siri or any voice activation app that will dial the emergency number when a special code word is shouted out.
- Always leave your Uber or Lyft app on, and logged in, so you can be positioned and located by police in case you cannot send your location.
- If you have a dash cam, use audio, and tell your passenger that the dash cam is recording the ride for insurance and company requirements. (This usually deters the rider from any unbecoming actions during the ride).
More: Is driving with Uber and Lyft Safe?