Women share ‘terrifying’ Uber safety tips online in case they are attacked by drivers

A TikTok user caused shock when she detailed how she leaves DNA in Uber cars as a safety precaution when using the ride-hailing app. Breanna showed users of the app how she purposely leaves her fingerprints on the car window and her hair in the vehicle.

The video has had a huge 3.4M “likes” on the app, and while it might seem an extreme precaution to some, there is a host of similar videos on the platform. Most seem to suggest the female passengers are taking precautions against the driver.

Many female TikTokers responded to Brenna’s video by sharing their own tips. One wrote: “Get in, open the door again always. Act like it didn’t close right. Make sure there’s no child lock on!”

Another suggested: “Set your Uber name to a guy’s name. It will look like a dad/boyfriend/boss ordered it for you, thus you have someone waiting for you.”

“I also have them drop me off further away from my actual address,” one commenter wrote. Many others commented on the disturbing fact that women feel these steps are necessary.

One said: “I literally do this every time…we live in such a sad world.” Another wrote: “How sad we have to do this…” 

In another similar trend, TikTok users are posting videos meant to mimic phone calls that Uber passengers can respond to so drivers think someone is waiting for them.

In some, which users are encouraged to play out loud so drivers can hear the voice on the other end as though they are on speakerphone, the TikToks say things like, “Mum is tracking your phone again,” or “send me your location so I know where you are.”

Nichelle Laus is a former police officer and self-defense expert who shares her tips to stay safe in a number of environments. She addressed travelling in a Uber in two videos, offering her advice.

She told users: “Take a picture of the license plate before you get in your car and, I can’t stress this enough, share your ride at all times. I would recommend sitting in the back seat, and of course, I make sure that the windows and doors are unlocked.”

She added: “Do not share any personal information about yourself. If you feel uncomfortable and are starting to feel like things are a bit off, make sure you record that conversation in case your phone goes missing. Stay safe.”

Another female safety expert who runs self-defense classes in South Africa and shares her tips on the account @fightbacksa shared her Uber recommendation. She told uses of the app: “I make sure to ask the driver who the Uber is for, rather than giving my name, to make sure I’m getting in the right car. The next thing I do is ensure the child lock is off.

“Always make sure to sit behind the driver. As a last resort sitting here can allow you to use a bag strap to subdue the person driving and gives you a bit of time to escape.”

She carries pepper spray with her, and always watches her phone during the trip to make sure the driver is en route.

“If they start to deviate from the route,” she said, “let them know you have noticed. That way they know you are not going to be an easy target.”

An Uber spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “With more than five million people using the Uber app across the UK, there is nothing more important than the safety of riders and drivers. Before they can register to use the Uber app, all drivers in the UK must be licensed for private-hire, which includes an enhanced DBS background check. Over the last four years we have launched a range of new safety features, including an emergency assistance button, a 24/7 support phone centre and the ability to share your live journey with loved ones.”

In its most recent safety report, The 2019 – 2020 US Safety Report, Uber claimed the total figure of sexual assaults reported was 3,824. This was compared to 5,981 cases from 2017 to 2018. It claimed in 43 percent of these cases the Uber passenger was the perpetrator.

In the US in the year 2020, 137 claims of non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part were made.

Five-hundred-and-twenty-eight claims of non-consensual touching of a sexual body part were made. There were 110 cases of non-consensual kissing of sexual body parts reported, 82 reports of attempted non-consensual sexual penetration, and 141 cases of non-consensual sexual penetration.

The report did not disclose how many claims of sexual misconduct were made.

In cases of sexual misconduct, which by Uber’s taxonomy includes behaviours like leering, making personal comments, explicit gestures, masturbation, or indecent exposure, the report said: “Our response to these types of incidents focuses on education regarding appropriate boundaries.”

It claimed when it receives a report of sexual misconduct the incident is “routed to the appropriate team” and if a pattern of behaviour is found it “can trigger further review and result in the accused party’s loss of access to the Uber platform.”

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