By Alison Stanton

If you are over the age of 18, you may have already used a ridesharing service like Uber and/or Lyft to get you where you needed to go.

Using one of these companies for a ride can be a very convenient option; for instance, if your own car is down for repairs, if you don’t own a vehicle or if you would simply like someone else to handle the driving to get you from Point A to Point B.

Age Limits for Uber and Lyft

In case you are wondering why we started this article with the “over the age of 18” reference, it is because both Uber and Lyft have age limits for their riders; for both companies, you have to be at least 18 to have an account with Uber and Lyft and request rides. If you are under 18, you have to be accompanied by someone over the age of 18 on any ride, like maybe your Mom or an older sibling or cousin.

While the vast majority of people use these services without issue, unfortunately, there have been news reports of scary incidents that have happened to riders.

In an effort to keep our readers as safe as possible when using Uber and Lyft, please consider the following tips:

Safety Advice from Uber

Both Uber and Lyft take their riders’ safety very seriously. In fact, both companies have sections of their websites devoted to this very important topic.

For instance, while Uber does screen their drivers and has created their app technology with safety in mind, they collaborated with law enforcement to help you stay as safe as possible while taking an Uber.

After you request a ride with Uber, minimize the amount of time you are standing outside by yourself with your phone in your hand; stay indoors if at all possible until your app shows your driver has arrived. Also, every single time you request an Uber, match the license plate, car make and model and the driver’s photo with what is shown on your app. Then, ask the driver what your name is—he or she will have your first name in their app and should be able to tell you this very easily. If any of this does not match or the driver cannot verify the name of the rider, do not get in the car.

Whenever possible, get into the back seat of the car, and when you are headed to your destination, tape the “share trip” status in the app—this will allow you to share your trip and the driver’s info with a trusted family member or friend. If you feel like something is amiss once you are in the car, you can call 911 by using the Emergency Button in the Uber app.

Lyft Also Weighs in with Safety Tips

Like Uber, Lyft suggests that you make sure that the car you are about to get into matches the license plate, make and model that are displayed on your Lyft app. Checking the driver’s photo and name is also wise, and you can share your location and route with a friend or loved one, which will allow them to follow along in real time.

Lyft also offers a great deal of information about how they train and teach their drivers. Also, if you need to call or text the driver through the Lyft app, he or she won’t be able to see your phone number and vice versa.

Additional Words of Wisdom also offers some solid advice about staying safe when using a ridesharing service. Besides the tips offered above, they suggest not riding alone—there is always safety in numbers and you can split the cost of the ride with your friend. Also, letting your driver know that your trip is being tracked is a good idea—make a phone call and let someone know that you are currently taking an Uber or Lyft ride; have a “script” memorized like “Hi Mom—I wanted to let you know I’m on my Uber ride now and I’ll be there in 15 minutes. You can follow along on the app.” Speak loudly and clearly so the driver can hear you.

Finally, even if the driver seems super nice and is very chatty, resist the urge to tell him or her any personal info, like where you go to school, your full name or anything else.