Recent data has revealed a troubling rise in criminal activities involving ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft in Chicago. Several incidents have surfaced recently in Chicago, and many more occur around the country—carjackings, killings, people pretending to be Uber drivers and then committing serious crimes—shedding light on the growing safety concerns for both riders and drivers.

Uber’s 2022 rider ratings placed Chicago among the ten cities with the worst-rated riders, securing the 10th position, though there is no specific data explaining why Chicago riders are rated among the worst. [1] The reasons could vary from negative rider attitudes to violent interactions with drivers.

However, the overarching concern persists with regard to the safety risks inherent in ride-sharing platforms such as Uber. Both riders and drivers are exposed to various hazards that range from carjackings to assaults to false accusations and even murder. 

The perceived dangers relating to riders may lead to a reluctance to utilize these services, as concerns for personal well-being overshadow convenience. Similarly, drivers feel the pressure on their safety and livelihood. 

If these fears are allowed to fester unaddressed, we could witness a reduction in the number of ride-sharing operators—an unsettling trend that would diminish an essential mode of transit for many residents within Chicago.

Contextualizing Chicago’s Ranking

Chicago’s position as the 10th worst-rated city for Uber riders underscores a troubling trend highlighted by comparison to other major cities. 

According to Uber’s 2022 rider ratings, New York City secured the top spot for the worst-rated riders, followed by Seattle, Washington D.C., Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Chicago. 

While it’s unclear why Chicago riders specifically earned negative ratings, the broader context of safety and robbery concerns cannot be ignored.

Safety and Robbery Concerns

Recent news has spotlighted the critical safety issues plaguing ride-sharing services in Chicago.

In January of 2024, a chilling account surfaced when an Uber driver was robbed at gunpoint by passengers. The driver, fortunately unharmed, lost his phone, wallet, and sense of security while on the job. These kinds of incidents understandably contribute to the anxiety and fear among both riders and drivers in the city.

Another at least six rideshare drivers were also robbed in January 2024 in Chicago, further heightening the sense of unease within the community. [2]

The frequency and proximity of these robberies not only disrupt drivers’ sense of security but also place considerable strain on their livelihood and willingness to work in such vulnerable zones.

Road Safety, Liability, and Crime Concerns

The surge in crimes targeting rideshare drivers in Chicago calls for immediate action, as prioritizing the protection of both drivers and customers is imperative.

Road Safety Challenges

The negative rider behavior in Chicago does not exist in a vacuum and often correlates with broader road safety issues and accidents. Disruptive passengers can distract drivers, elevating the risk of collisions. 

Also, when riders are belligerent or under the influence of alcohol, it creates scenarios that might require the driver to stop abruptly to manage conflicts, an action that jeopardizes safety on the road. It’s also likely that drivers who are navigating high crime areas may feel worried and on edge, which could impair their focus and lead to accidents. 

Drivers operating in increasingly hazardous conditions must also navigate the complex landscape of liability and legal consequences that arise from these incidents. Determining responsibility when a crime such as a robbery or an assault occurs can be challenging. 

Rideshare companies classify their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, which can limit the company’s liability in the event of accidents. This may make it difficult if not impossible for injured riders to hold Uber as a company legally responsible.

Additionally, passengers who are victims of rideshare-related crimes might face a prolonged legal battle involving multiple entities, including the rideshare company and insurers. In some cases, they may even try to sue the driver in civil court.

Strategies for Enhancing Rider Safety

Ensuring safer rideshare experiences for both drivers and passengers requires a comprehensive approach that addresses preventative measures, technological advancements, and regulatory policies, which could include:

  • Educational Initiatives: One of the most effective ways to enhance rider safety is through comprehensive educational programs. Both community-based efforts and initiatives led by rideshare companies, like Uber, can play a crucial role in this regard.
  • Community Workshops: Hosting community workshops to raise passengers’ awareness of the significance of maintaining safety and respect when using rideshare services. 
  • Uber-Led Campaigns: Launching campaigns through the app and social media channels to spread awareness about rider safety and conduct. This could include informational videos, infographics, and articles.
  • In-App Tutorials: Implementing interactive, mandatory tutorials for new users that cover the basics of rideshare etiquette and safety protocols.

Preventive Measures

Implementing specific safety measures can significantly reduce the risk of robberies and improve the overall safety of both riders and drivers. Possible preventative measures could include:

  • In-App Safety Features: Ensuring riders are aware of advanced in-app features such as real-time ride tracking, emergency buttons, and alerts for unplanned route deviations.
  • Enhanced Screening Processes: Adopting more rigorous background checks for both riders and drivers to ensure a safer environment. 
  • Surveillance Systems: Equipping cars with discreet surveillance systems that can provide additional security, acting as a deterrent to criminal activity.

Practical Tips

Rideshare users can take several practical steps to enhance their own safety and that of others while using these services, including: 

Verify Ride Details

Before stepping into a rideshare vehicle, it’s important to make sure that the car you’re about to enter is indeed the one you ordered through the app. Always check that the license plate number provided in your booking confirmation matches with what’s on the vehicle waiting for you. 

Additionally, compare both the driver’s name and their profile picture from your app with who is actually in front of you. 

Share Ride Information

Ride-sharing apps generally have a feature that allows you to share your trip details with someone you trust. Utilizing this feature is a smart way to keep loved ones informed of your whereabouts in real-time. 

They can see the route, track the progress of your ride, and even know when you’ve safely reached your destination. In case any unexpected incidents occur during the trip, someone will quickly be aware and can act accordingly.

Choose Safe Pick-Up Locations

When scheduling a pick-up, think carefully about where it would be safest for you to meet the driver. If it’s dark outside, select a location that is well-lit and preferably one that is crowded or regularly trafficked by pedestrians. Public places like cafés, stores, or designated ride-sharing pick-up points are good options. 

Additionally, avoid areas with poor visibility, such as obscured alleyways, where illegitimate drivers might find it easier to commit opportunistic crimes. 

Stay Aware

Maintaining vigilance during the ride is crucial for your personal safety and the security of your belongings. Keep any bags or other valuables close to you, ideally within sight and reach, to reduce the risk of property theft or loss. 

Also, make sure you stay attentive to the route being taken by checking with GPS navigation on your own device, if possible, to make sure you’re being taken to the right place.

Additionally, avoid distractions that might diminish your sense of awareness, such as getting too absorbed in using your phone, which can make you less cognizant of unexpected changes in direction or a driver’s behavior.

Plan for Emergencies

It is essential to understand what to do in the event of an emergency. Before you travel, get acquainted with the various safety features available within your ride-sharing app. These might include a panic button or quick access to call local authorities if you feel threatened or unsafe.

Prepare an action plan that could save crucial moments if something goes wrong; this means knowing how and where to direct law enforcement should they need details such as your current location and destination, driver information, and vehicle description.

Never hesitate to end the trip early if anything seems off. A reasonable and respectful driver will understand concerns about safety and comply with requests to drive you to a safe, public area.

While some people may feel that these steps are overkill, they can help prevent crimes like robbery and even more serious ones like abduction and murder, which unfortunately have happened. It’s an unfortunate reality that we need to be aware of these very real situations that could occur.

The Bottom Line

While there are no specifics surrounding Chicago being rated as the 10th worst Uber riders in the country, it should still make us think more about the safety and legal implications for users of ridesharing services. Using safety measures and following these tips can mitigate risks and create a more secure environment.

If you happen to be involved in a rideshare incident, whether as a driver or a passenger, it is important to seek professional legal counsel promptly. Legal experts can help navigate the complexities of personal injury claims and ensure you receive the appropriate compensation if appropriate given the circumstances.

References: [1] Axios, [2] ABC7Chicago,

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