LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A 21-year-old college student was killed after mistaking a random car for her ride share. It happened in South Carolina. Investigators said the driver put the child safety locks on to stop her from getting out.
As ride shares like Uber and Lyft continue to grow here in Las Vegas, FOX5 wanted to find out how you can protect yourself – before your ride shows up - and once you’re inside.
It starts with the simple stuff. Before you even get into your car, check your driver’s name, their license plate and picture to make sure everything matches up.
But it it’s too late and you find yourself trapped inside someone’s car, there are still some ways you can escape and get help.
“They put their window down, and they ask for my name,” Dianna Agudez said.
“I think it'd be better to verify who it is before approaching the vehicle,” Jenniffer Dubin said.
“Someone always knows where I’m going,” Oscar Griffin said.
Students at UNLV said they already know the basics when it comes to ride share safety.
“There’s too many people in Vegas to not be safe,” Dubin said.
But even some drivers said they see passengers hop in their cars all the time, without asking any questions.
“The door usually locks so it's like there's not really like a getaway plan,” Griffin said. “It’s all about being as safe as possible and be alert.”
Self-defense expert Patti Stewart agreed. She is the owner of Defense in Heels.
“Once you're in the car and at the point of no return, you have less than a 2% chance of survival once you go with a bad guy to secondary location,” she said.
Stewart added if you ever find yourself in a trapped car, start thinking of a plan.
“Most women freeze, that is the most dangerous position to be in,” she said.
And if you’re using Uber, use the app to start alerting people something’s not right.
“Take a picture of the bad guy and make sure you're sending it to people too,” Stewart said. “Don't be afraid to use your big girl voice and tell him to stop the car instantly. Tell him that you called 911. Call 911. Make sure everybody knows where you are right then and there so that you can make sure you’re going to make it out of there as opposed to that 2% statistic.”
If that doesn’t work, there are some other ways to get the driver to stop the car.
“With the child locks, it's harder to get out but you can yell, scream make a scene,” Stewart said. “Usually you can roll down the windows make a scene, or even roll down the windows to get out.”
Stewart said do not try to physically stop the driver because that might cause a crash. Instead, focus on what you will do once the car is parked.
“Make sure you've made that cognitive decision of I'm going home tonight,” she said. “So I will fight to go home instead of saying, ‘Oh it's okay, he got me. I'm dead.’”
FOX5 reached out to Uber to ask how they are working to improve safety. A spokesperson said coming soon will be a ‘Ride Check’ feature. Uber will continue to track a passenger and driver on their ride through GPS. Then if Uber notices your ride is parked for too long or something else looks suspicious, they will alert you and ask if you’re okay.
Uber has already rolled out some other safety features including an ‘emergency button’ that allows you to call 911 through the app. All of your information is sent directly to the dispatcher so you don’t have to speak if you’re in danger. The app also allows riders to set ‘trusted contacts’ so your location can be automatically shared with loved ones.