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Oxford Police Offer Advice on Rideshare Safety

School of Journalism and New Media student Hallie Grace Withrow checks out the rideshare scene in Oxford.

Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft are game-changers, reshaping how we get from place to place. However, Officer Hildon Sessums of the Oxford Police Department says it’s important to be aware that people can pretend to be drivers for rideshare apps.

“You just want to make sure that you are getting into an Uber or Lyft that you ordered and not just somebody who’s randomly driving by,” Sessums said.

Conor, an experienced rideshare driver who wishes not to share his last name, agrees and says both the rider and driver should check names to ensure they match on their apps.

Sessum says staying smart does not end there.

“Once you’re actually in the car, there are several different things you can do. You can record your ride, call 911 from the app if you feel unsafe, and alert a friend to let them know you’ve arrived at your location,” he said.

OPD rarely receives calls regarding ridesharing-related incidents, partly due to the safety protocols that Uber and Lyft have built into their apps. Things like a thorough background check on drivers, a direct line to 911, and location sharing with family and friends are all safety features listed on Uber and Lyft websites.

In addition, Oxford has designated three rideshare pickup locations in and around the Square to ensure that pickups are organized and go smoothly. Sessums also suggests that people travel in groups so that no one is alone while waiting for a ride.

Ole Miss student Emily Manning is a regular rideshare app user. She says she can get a little worried at times.

“So, if an Uber is not talking to me, like during the ride, or like having a bit of a conversation, then I get stressed out, and it makes me anxious. But when we have a little bit of a conversation and I kind of get to know his or her background, then I feel like I get to connect with them on a better level.”

Sessum says it’s good to be cautious.

“Everyone should always have situational awareness, but overall, it is safe.”


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