Ridesharing services have become the norm for many Oklahomans. As the popularity of Uber and Lyft increases, so do concerns about safety, so both companies have worked to provide secure experiences for riders and drivers alike.

Kayla Whaling, with Uber media relations, says riders and drivers can call 911 through the emergency assistance feature in the Uber app. The company also added the option to text 911 with information that can include the vehicle’s make, model, license plate and location.

In January, Uber added a unique, four-digit PIN for each ride. The customer gives it to the driver, who enters the numbers into the application. If everything matches, the ride is verified. The PIN is an opt-in feature.

Uber riders can soon designate up to five family members or friends as trusted contacts, who can receive details of every ride.

Ashley Adams of Lyft’s media relations department says: “Safety is fundamental. Since day one, we’ve invested in policies, products and features to protect both riders and drivers, and we are continuously working to make Lyft an even safer platform for our community.”

Adams says that in 2019, Lyft launched more than 15 safety features, including in-app emergency assistance, increased anti-fraud measures and mandatory feedback for any ride rated less than four stars.

“We know that safety is not a destination,” Adams says, “and when it comes to the safety of our riders and drivers, both on the road or in the car, our work will never be done.”

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Before getting into an Uber, Lyft or other rideshare vehicle, make sure the license plate, driver profile and the vehicle’s make, model and color match the information you receive. If it is your first time using such a service, research additional safety features before scheduling a ride.

Public Options

Oklahoma’s two largest cities have public transit options that might fit your needs.

In Oklahoma City, “the great thing about Embark’s family of public transportation services is that they are safe, accessible, low-cost and sustainable,” spokesman Michael Scroggins says. “Ensuring our community has access to a wide variety of safe mobility options is at the heart of Embark’s mission. It is encouraging to see the marketplace innovate and support even more mobility solutions for our communities.”

Liann Alfaro, the City of Tulsa’s planning and marketing director, says city buses let “a person have the freedom to relax, have fun and get some exercise, all while taking in what Tulsa offers.”

Alfaro says Tulsa has many options, including scooters, a bike-sharing program, Tulsa Transit with fixed bus routes and the Aero Bus Rapid Transit line. These services are typically less expensive than Uber or Lyft and reduce a rider’s carbon footprint, she says.