Cross Country Checkup·Checkup

Is Uber not safe for women? Checkup callers weigh in

Checkup callers weigh in on whether using Uber-style apps are safe for the public.
A photo illustration shows the Uber app logo displayed on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph in central London, Britain October 28, 2016. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

While many blame Uber for avoiding bylaws, licenses, safety rules and taxes, some women are worried about the safety of using the service. 

During Cross Country Checkup's conversation about "the sharing economy," Joanne Hedenstorm of Lethbridge, Alta. expressed her concerns over using Uber as a woman. 

Listen to Checkup host Duncan McCue's discussion with Joanne Hedenstorm and Mina Kitts below: 

"When I call an Uber car, how safe am I when getting into a stranger's car? When I call a taxi, I know there's a dispatcher. The dispatcher knows how long the drive should take and when it should be over," she said. 

"So with Uber, as a woman, I'm just not going to use it. I'm getting into a car with an anonymous stranger, and modern cars all tend to lock after you've been in a car for a while. I'm not going to use it until that is resolved." 

Mina Kitts, who called from Sudbury, Ont. agreed with Hedenstorm. She says as a single woman, she's worried about getting into a private car. 

Having lived in Toronto for 23 years before moving, Kitts said she used to rely on taxis regularly to get around. She added that she was able to report inappropriate behaviour from drivers to the company they worked for. 

As soon as an Uber trip is requested, drivers using the in-app features will see a flashing light, in addition to getting the usual audio alert. (CBC)

With Uber however, she said she feels there's not as much protection, despite the lower prices Uber drivers offer compared to other cab companies.

"What if one of these drivers has a car accident and you have some disabilities afterwards? Who's paying for this?" Kitts asked. 

"I think there are so many things that we take for granted that our cab companies in particular are doing for us, that we don't realize. We're all getting on this bandwagon of how cheap it is." 

But not everyone thinks Uber is unsafe for women. 

Sarah Cameron, who called from Edmonton, disagreed with Hedenstorm and Kitts. 

Listen to Duncan McCue's discussion with Sarah Cameron below: 

She said as a single woman, she thinks Uber is a safe option for her because the service allows her to pick which drivers she wants depending on the ratings and reviews they've been given on the Uber app.

"I know who my driver is. If I've ever had an issue, the second I call Uber...their customer service is on it," she said. 

Cameron added that the Uber drivers she's encountered have always been careful and responsible. 

"I've even asked Uber drivers how they feel. And [in] one particular incident, an Uber driver said that he had picked up these young gentlemen and they were drinking beer in his car, " she said. 

"He kicked them out of the car, told Uber and [they] banned those people from being on the Uber app. How wonderful is that?" 

But while Hedenstrom questions the safety of Uber, she offers a solution that would ease her concerns for women who would use the ride sharing service. 

"Why don't we have women offering to drive as Uber drivers and we can specifically call women?  That won't eliminate all the problems, but it might help."