Menu Close

Is Uber Safe For Seniors?

Is Uber safe for seniors?

When my dad reached age 97, my sister and I made a mutual decision that he should stop driving.

Even though he only drove within about a five-mile radius, his reflexes had slowed down and he often drove well under the minimum speed limit.

Surrendering his keys meant he would have to rely on other transportation if I wasn’t available, so we looked into taxis and rideshare options like Uber and Lyft.

One of the first things we investigated was is Uber safe for seniors? In general, Uber is as safe as taking a taxi. The rideshare company does several types of screenings before clearing someone to drive for them. These include driving history, criminal background checks, and motor vehicle checks. Also, GPS tracks the ride and the app has a 911 emergency call button.

How Safe is Ridesharing?

Some people have safety concerns with ridesharing.

Because the drivers are “regular” people who use their own vehicles while transporting others, there is fear that these services might be dangerous for customers.

Rest assured, all of the major ridesharing companies have plenty of requirements that drivers must meet.

Uber requires:

  • The car to pass a vehicle inspection before the driver is hired. The car must also pass annual inspections after that.
  • Drivers to pass criminal background checks before they are allowed to drive for the company. These background checks are also rerun annually.
    • Driver screenings include researching for moving violations, felonies, violent crimes, and drinking- and drug-related offenses. If the driver is hired, Uber receives ongoing notifications if the person receives a DUI or if they are charged with a crime in the future.

Additionally, Uber has updated the safety features in their app to include:

  • Car and driver verification which allows a senior passenger (actually, any passenger) to know the color and type of car that will pick them up. Also, they can see a picture of the driver so they can be sure they are getting in the correct car.
  • GPS is used to track the car. Additionally, the route is stored, which makes a driver accountable if there is a problem or complaint during or after the trip.
  • Share My Trip – the senior rider can share the route the Uber driver is taking with their family or friends. Their loved ones will know the vehicle information and the driver’s first name, plus they will see the route the car is taking in real time on a map.
  • Insurance protection covers every ride.
  • An emergency button on the app that connects the user directly to 911.
  • For privacy, the rider’s cell phone number is never available to the driver (and vice-versa).

As with anything, there is always the potential for danger when you use a rideshare service, but in general, taking Uber is as safe for a senior as taking a taxi would be.

And, Uber is definitely safer than using public transportation because the car comes directly to the person.

There is no waiting on a bus stop corner or sidewalk, exposed to the weather and potential crime.

If you feel safer with a female Uber driver for whatever reason – know that you cannot specifically request a female Uber driver but that about 14% of these drivers are women (according to a 2017 study by Uber).

Is it Safe to Ride Uber At Nighttime?

I have personally taken Uber at night many times and have been safe. I have used it in large cities (Atlanta, GA and NYC) and in smaller towns (Asheville, NC and Boise, ID).

I felt safe with each and every ride. But, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t use precautions.

How Do I Stay Safe with Uber?

It’s important to remember that safety is a two-way street, and it’s all about being aware and taking some simple precautions. So, let’s dive in!

1. Mask Up or Not? It’s Your Call! Uber no longer requires riders and drivers to wear masks.

However, the CDC still recommends wearing a mask if you have certain personal risk factors or if there’s high transmission in your area.

Many people still feel safer wearing a mask due to personal or family health situations, so it’s all about what makes you comfortable. And remember, if you ever feel uncomfortable, you can always cancel the trip.

2. Choose Your Seat Wisely Riders are no longer required to sit in the back seat. But to give drivers space, Uber asks that riders only use the front seat if it’s required because of the size of their group.

So, if you’re riding alone or with just one other person, it might be best to stick to the back seat.

3. Keep it Clean It’s still important to take safety precautions while riding. So, roll down the windows for extra airflow, sanitize your hands before and after trips, and always cover your cough or sneeze.

It’s all about being considerate of each other’s space.

4. Know Your Driver All Uber drivers undergo a multi-step safety screen before their first trip, including checks for impaired driving and violent offenses.

Uber also rescreens drivers at least every year and uses technology to look for issues in between.

So, you can rest assured that your driver has been thoroughly vetted.

5. Emergency Help is Just a Tap Away In an emergency, speed and accuracy are critical. If you call 911 from the Uber app, the app displays your live location and trip details, so you can share them with the emergency dispatcher.

In a growing number of US cities, this information is automatically provided to the authorities.

6. Enjoy the Ride, Uber’s Got Your Back Uber has built technology to look out for you. By using sensors and GPS data, Uber’s RideCheck can help detect if a trip goes unusually off-course or if a possible crash has occurred.

If the app alerts Uber to anything out of the ordinary, they’ll reach out to provide you with the resources you need to get help.

7. Your Personal Details Stay Private Uber uses technology to help keep your phone number private, so neither drivers nor riders will see each other’s numbers when communicating through the Uber app.

Once a trip is completed, the app also protects rider information by concealing specific pickup and dropoff addresses in a driver’s trip history.

Remember, your safety is Uber’s priority, and they’re committed to making every ride a safe and enjoyable experience. So, next time you need a ride, just tap the app and enjoy the journey!

Read about the safety tips that I recommend when using a ridesharing service.

Reasons For Needing to Use Uber

“By 2035, there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older.”

United States Census Bureau (2018)

As the Baby Boomers age, they will likely face having to give up driving at some point:

This means they will be isolated and dependent on family or friends to do things like take them shopping or to medical visits.

Having transportation is important – without it, their quality of life is affected.

This is where ridesharing services can be a great option.

There are countless reasons for needing to use a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft. For seniors, that might include things like:

  • Trips to the doctor
  • Meeting friends or family at a restaurant
  • Grocery shopping
  • Staying active through social functions or outings, such as visiting museums and parks, playing Bingo, etc.
  • Attending places of worship (going to church, synagogue, mosque, etc.)

Rideshare services are perfect for seniors who don’t live near family or who live in a town that doesn’t have much public transportation. Uber and Lyft-type services allow the person to stay independent longer.

Plus they free up family members from having to take time off work or time away from their own errands to take the senior somewhere.

Uber For Seniors Without Smartphones (Can You Uber Without the App?)

The good news is that there are a couple of ways that can help Grandma take Uber even if she doesn’t have a smartphone:

  • You can arrange the ride for her
  • She can use a provider to arrange it herself
  • You (or she) can book online through a desktop web browser

You Can Arrange the Ride for Her

To do so:

  • Download the Uber app and sign up (it’s free)
  • Enter Grandma’s contact info into the app’s address book (contact list)
  • When ordering the ride, enter the address where Grandma should be picked up into your Uber app
  • Select “someone else,” then select your loved one from your list of contacts
  • Enter her destination address and confirm it
  • Request the ride
  • Grandma will get a text with the driver’s name and photo, the car’s description and license plate number, and the time until the driver will pick her up. She can even contact the driver herself if she needs to.

She Can Use a Provider to Arrange it Herself

GoGoGrandparent is an intermediary service that “orders licensed and authorized Transportation Network Companies on your behalf as your representative so you can seamlessly access and use…the services your grandkids are using.

To use GoGoGrandparent, Grandma just needs to call from a landline or flip phone. Of course, having a cell phone is recommended so a senior can always be reached, but it isn’t necessary.

So why wouldn’t Grandma just call a ridesharing service on her own? Because she needs a smartphone to do so and many elderly people either don’t have one or are confused by using an app.

Also, many seniors aren’t comfortable using a smartphone for more than talking on the phone.

Another nice feature of GoGoGrandparent is that they take down the rider’s preferences (for example: the need for a car with a trunk that will fit a wheelchair or walker).

So, in this example, when Grandma calls for a ride, GoGoGrandparent will automatically arrange for a car with a big trunk (or maybe a driver that is comfortable helping someone with visual impairments in a different scenario, etc.).

You (or She) Can Book Online Through a Desktop Web Browser

She (or you) can also request an Uber ride through a desktop if she doesn’t have a smartphone. She’ll need to set up an account in order to book a driver.

To do this, she has to access Uber’s mobile website by typing into her web browser’s URL bar. This takes her to the desktop version of the smartphone app.

To schedule a ride, Grandma logs into her account and requests the type of car she wants to ride in (for example: UberX is a regular car, UberSelect or UberBlack are higher end cars).

After filling in the pickup location and the destination, she can request a fare quote.

If she agrees to the fare, she selects the payment method and clicks the Request button. As with all Uber rides, she’ll get the driver’s name and picture, plus the vehicle information (make, model, color, license plate number).

*Tip: Grandma needs to schedule the return trip in advance first – before completing the request for the outbound trip.

This is because when Uber says the driver will be there to pick her up in three minutes, they really mean it. There probably won’t be enough time to for her to schedule the return trip before the driver gets to her.

Does Uber Have Wheelchair Service?

Yes – although it’s currently limited to just a few cities, Uber does offer this service which is a big benefit for people who use wheelchairs or motorized scooters.

As of the end of 2018, Uber was testing a program that provides wheelchair service in certain cities via their WAV program.

Right now, WAV is only available in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., however the company hopes to expand the service in the future.

Drivers who provide these services must be certified by a third party. This means they can safely drive and assist seniors or those with disabilities that require the use of these types of mobility aids.

Traveling companions can ride along with the senior in a WAV vehicle. Service animals are also allowed to ride with the person.

Car Aids For the Elderly Who Take Uber

Speaking of wheelchair and scooter service makes me think of the difficulty many seniors face when driving or riding in a car.

In her later years, my mom always had trouble getting in and out of cars. This was because:

  • Automobile seats are often lower to the ground, so leverage can be a problem if you have weak legs or mobility issues like my mom did.
  • Twisting or rotating the body to face forward after sitting down can be tough to do. Getting out of the car means the same issues, but in reverse.
  • Lifting the legs into or out of the car is problematic for lots of seniors.
  • Unbuckling seat belts is often difficult for those with weak or arthritic fingers.

Chances are that Uber drivers won’t have mobility devices in their cars, so it could be helpful for a senior rider to bring along an easily portable aid if they use a ridesharing service.

The products that are portable enough to bring with you are…

  • The HandyBar Car Assist Cane Handle
  • The Rotation Aid
  • A leg lifting aid
  • The Unbuckle Me

You’ll find these products and more in our article on safety products for older drivers.

Alternatives to Uber and Ride Sharing

My former mother-in-law lives in a small town. We’ve discussed her using a ridesharing option, but she doesn’t see well and doing something unfamiliar can be scary.

Still she needs to get food and get to the doctor and her daughter isn’t always available to take her.

In instances like this, there are other alternatives to Uber, such as:

  • Grocery delivery services – many supermarket chains now offer grocery delivery. The senior places their grocery order online and chooses a time slot for delivery. If they don’t have access to a computer, you can place the order for them.
  • Senior center outreach programs – many senior centers offer transportation to and from their center, plus shopping trips, classes, and activities. Find one near you.
  • Volunteer transportation programs – some cities have volunteer programs for transportation services. Start by looking at this map of providers from National Center for Mobility Management.
  • Taxis – while usually more costly than ridesharing, taxi services are easy for seniors to access. They don’t need a cell phone or internet connection and most companies will give a quote for the cost of the trip over the phone.
Share This Article

Join our thriving network of 6,685 caregivers and seniors.Granddaughter caring for her grandmother.Learn Expert Safety Tips, About The Latest Trends
And Much More!

Click Here To Subscribe

Join our thriving network of 6,685 caregivers and seniors.Granddaughter caring for her grandmother.Learn Expert Safety Tips, About The Latest Trends
And Much More!

Click Here To Subscribe