Uber-Involved Kidnappings Cause Frequent Users to Question the Service

By: Simone Dunbar

On May 13, 2019, a Pittsburgh Uber driver was charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment after threatening to kidnap two women he was driving.

Recently, counts of rapes, kidnappings, and harassment involving Uber drivers have been occurring more frequently. In the last 5 years, there have been more than 150 reported issues involving an Uber-employed driver. As new issues arise in the ride-sharing system, Sharon High School students are becoming more cautious when utilizing services like Uber and Lyft.

Sharon High School senior Sabrina Khan, says she uses rideshare apps like Uber almost every weekend. “The MBTA is insane, so I just use ride share for a faster experience,” Khan said.

Khan says that she doesn’t usually take precautions when taking Uber. “Well, sometimes its fate to die in a Uber or Lyft, and I do feel scared that that could possibly happen to me.”

Khan says she questions her use of ride-share services after seeing news of recent crimes involving Uber. “I rather not die unwillingly,” said Khan.

Junior Jada Johnson says she uses rideshare apps very often. She adds that she doesn’t always take precautions when using the services. “The app says it takes background checks, so I trust it,” said Johnson.

Johnson says that learning about kidnappings by Uber drivers concerns her to an extent. ”It opens my eyes a little, but this can happen anywhere at any time because you are with a stranger. If you are using the app there is always a possibility of a dangerous situation,” Johnson said.

Johnson says the recent events have caused her to partially question her use of rideshare services. “This could happen even if there was a taxi driver. There is always a risk no matter what, and that is just a consequence of using anything with strangers,” Johnson said.

Senior Brent Huot says he uses Uber around once a month. “I take [an Uber] when I visit friends that live in Newton or Needham, and we use it to get into Boston when we don’t feel like taking the train,” Huot said.

“I have never ridden in an Uber alone, so I guess that is one precaution I have taken,” said Huot. He adds that he always compared the faces of the drivers to the pictures supplied by the app.

Huot says he was unaware of the recent incidents involving Uber. “That definitely is very scary to hear. It’s hard to believe that people who would want to do things like this are easily able to get a job with rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft,” Hout added.

Huot says that he will most likely continue to use services like Uber, but he will take more precautions. “I think I will continue to use Uber and Lyft; however, I will always be sure to be riding with a friend. Additionally, I might consider other modes of transportation such as the train or subway, if possible, rather than taking an Uber,” said Huot.

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