- Mike Coppola / Getty Images
- We asked Uber and Lyft drivers about the scariest incidents they’ve had working for the taxi apps.
- On the whole, most rides are uneventful and safe.
- But the few situations that occur can leave a driver scared on future rides.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The stories are reflective of a tiny minority of Uber and Lyft rides, but for many drivers, the harrowing tales of fellow chauffeurs brutally beaten, robbed, or even killed, are always front of mind.
Just this week, an Arizona man who drives for Lyft was shot and killed on his 52nd wedding anniversary. Before that, viral video showed a driver in New York beaten by a passenger. This list goes on and on.
Lyft and Uber, for their part, have responded by adding crisis response teams and in-app panic buttons that allow drivers to call 911 and share their location with first-responders.
Still, drivers say the company could do more to help keep them safe, like verifying the names or identities of riders.
We asked drivers to share some of their most harrowing stories from behind the wheel. Here’s what they said:
Paul, a driver in Los Angeles:
- David Livingston/Getty Images
“It was 2:30 on a Friday night ,or Saturday morning rather, when I got a request for a 45+ minute ride,” he said in a[n interview. “Normally it’s worth it at this time because there’s no traffic. When I got to the ping, there was no one there so I called the guy who said he was walking down the road. Sure enough, I spotted him and he hopped in. I instantly felt uncomfortable. He said he wanted to go to the Hollywood sign to party all night. I should have ended the ride right there.
“As we were approaching the freeway, I realized I was going to need gas, so I pulled in to fill up. When I got back in the car, he had canceled the trip. He said he would pay me $100 if I drove him and stayed to party with him for a few hours, and $100 more to drive him home. I told him that was illegal and he needed to get out of my vehicle, but he didn’t listen. When I told him again, he started swearing and screaming at me like a mad man. I opened his door to help him out of my car and he got even angrier. He punched me in the face and I fell backward.
“Fortunately, a tow truck driver was in the station and witnessed the incident. He came over to assist and luckily he was a big man. He dragged the passenger out of my car and held him in an arm lock while I called the police.
“I contacted Lyft, who said they would deactivate him and investigate. Still, I was too unsettled to drive for a few days. I’m very glad that tow truck driver was there.
Queen, a driver in Washington, DC:
- REUTERS/Jason Reed
“A wealthy man from a posh neighborhood, who sat directly behind me, went over potential serial killer scenarios asking me how I would cope. He then became furious when I tried to reassure him about ride-share safety statistics
“‘How dare you speak condescendingly to me!’ he yelled. Later, he wanted to know my work schedule and how he could ensure we meet up again. We could not. I reported him and requested never to be paired with him again.
Another story from Queen:
- Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images
“Two drunk men entered the vehicle, one in front and the other in back. My dash cam was on. The one in front wanted to change his destination to a strip club but refused to put it in the app.
“The guy in back began to massage my neck and shoulders, while the other commented on my physique and wanted me to go to the club also. Twilight was coming and there was torrential rain outside. The front seat driver grabbed my phone and replaced it with his phone, which meant I couldn’t see the GPS. I yelled at him to give it back while the back seat rider told me to calm down and that he loved me.
“I was not afraid of molestation because they were both very drunk. I was afraid of an accident due to so many things getting out of control. The guy in front finally tried to reach for my wheel. I jabbed him with my elbow and pulled over. “I threatened to kick them out if any more shenanigans, got my phone back and drove them to a safe place and ended the ride.
Diego, a driver in Washington, DC:
- Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)
“One lady refused to get out of my car after I asked her to,” he said in an interview.
“She was rushing me to drive faster in [Washington], DC, on a Friday evening rush hour. I explained to her that I am not risking a ticket or an accident, but she kept complaining so I pulled over and asked her to get out and find a different Lyft. She was very upset and refused; we were about five minutes from her destination so I asked her to please be quiet and let me drive for five more minutes.”
Amanda, a driver in Las Vegas, had a few stories:
- Ethan Miller/Getty Images
“I picked up a group of 4 people from Red Rock Canyon,” she said in an interview. “The Uber rider the account was under had a big Australian Shepard, so I asked him if he wanted to sit up front in order to have more room. He said no but looked freaked out. The girl sat up front, the guy with the dog sits behind her, another guy in the middle then the brother of the girl up front is behind me in the backseat.
“As we got on the road, the rider asks to get out as he was feeling sick. When we eventually get back on the highway, he asks again, and I do. Then all of this stuff falls out of his backpack. Finally I ask the other passengers if he’s on anything, for my safety, and she says he ‘only ate a little shrooms,’ which is obviously concerning to me.
“Once we’re finally back on the road, this guy opens his door as I’m doing 50 mph, so obviously I slam on the brakes and he jumps out. The guy in the middle pulls him back into the car but he somehow ended up on my center console. We ended the ride there and the girl gave me her number and apologized. I called the police and they responded, but getting Uber to pay the $650 worth of damages was such a headache. “
Amanda’s second incident:
“I was returning a phone to a woman who left it in my car, and she had been very inconsistent on meeting at certain times and locations. It was a super crowded weekend and pouring rain, so tons of traffic to get to her hotel on the Strip.
“When I got there I had to wait another 20 minutes, and as I stuck my arm out the window to hand her the phone, she yanks my arm, twisting it. Meanwhile, her husband is in another car dying laughing.”
Eric, a driver in Orlando:
- Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images
“I had a six-hour ride once with tons of stops that I’m pretty sure was a drug run,” he said in an interview. “He would get out of the car get in someone else’s car for a few minutes then back in my car. Then next destination. We even went to the graveyard for a few to pay respects to someone. I only made $100 on that ride since the distance traveled was not very long.
Luckily, Eric said he didn’t feel unsafe, and uses a similar strategy with anyone else acting strangely.
“If I tried to kick some of these guys out of my car it could have set them off, so I just go along with things.”
David, a driver in Atlanta:
“I was at a stoplight waiting to turn left when a drunk driver slammed in the back of me. He was on his way home from his already court-mandated drunk-driving classes.
Delores, a driver in Grand Rapids, Michigan:
- Drew Angerer/Getty Images
“My first couple weeks as a driver I picked up a guy at a park downtown. One of the first things he asked me was what I would do if it were my last day of freedom. When I asked him what he meant he admitted to being a fugitive for murder and he was thinking of turning himself in.
Steven, a driver in Tampa, Florida:
- Kevin McGovern/Shutterstock
“I was attacked by a guy who farted in my car,” he said in a text message. “He kept hitting me to roll up the windows. Wasn’t happening after that.
Sandra, a driver in Indianapolis:
- Mike Coppola / Staff/Getty Images
“My car seats seven including myself,” she said in an email. “I picked up a group who wanted to fit eight in my car and sit on each other’s laps. When I declined citing safety, liability, and the law they argued but eventually agreed. I got them down to 6 people, but they were still unsafe trying to sit on each other’s lap. I drove maybe 5 feet before they became belligerent.
“I ended the ride next to a police officer. One of the passengers got upset and punched me in the back of be head. The cop saw nothing and didn’t do anything. “
Anthony, a driver in Phoenix:
- Spencer Platt/Getty
“A young girl, in her 20s, insisted on sitting up front and was clearly on some type of drug, judging by her erratic and frantic energy,” he said in an interview. “She told me I was cute, but as a 46-year-old man this was annoying, and then started touching my leg.
“When we got to the destination, she refused to get out of my car. I used to be a bouncer, so I stayed calm and told her this was only going to make things worse. She started screaming at me until I told her I was recording and had already pressed the Lyft panic button. All of a sudden her eyes cleared up and she got out, spitting at me and slamming the door behind her. Lyft had to reimburse me for the repair she slammed it so hard.”
Austin, a driver in San Francisco:
- Creative Lab / Shutterstock.com
“I’ve never felt unsafe, but I have been super uncomfortable,” he said in a text message. “Some women are super forward and like to touch me. It is crazy. They grab my arms, neck, thighs. It’s not OK.”