Mackenzie Leuck, 23-year-old student from the University of Utah, got into a Lyft on June 17th, and has not been heard from since. I hope she is found alive. As a mama of a college student, my heart breaks for this family. I truly hope she is found safe.
Lyft has been cooperative with the investigation and I don't know if her disappearance has anything to do with the Lyft driver. However, as someone who frequently works directly with victims who have been assaulted by drivers for ride share companies, I wanted to share:
Top 10 Safety Tips for Using Uber, Lyft, and other Ride Shares:
1. Verify all info before getting into the vehicle. Verify the license plate matches what the app says, ask the driver for their name and the destination location to verify it matches.
2. Avoid riding alone, share your ride with friends when possible.
3. Use the app to share the status of your ride, also called “follow my ride” with someone you can trust.
4. Pay attention to the driver’s route, don't be afraid to question them if they veer off course.
5. Stay on the phone with a person during your ride (while paying attention, see #4). If you do not have a person to stay on the phone with, pretend you are talking to someone.
6. Sit in the back seat if possible, after checking the child locks are up (not locked) before closing the door (they are located on the door itself, not inside the vehicle, see this video for instruction).
7. Leave your window down if possible. This will allow you to scream for help or a witness.
8. Always use the app to schedule a ride. Do not call the driver directly if they give you their phone number and tell you to call them for a return ride. Do not agree to them turning off the app / gps, even if they say your ride is free.
9. Refrain from disclosing any personal information such as who you live with or if you live alone, if you are married or single, how much you have had to drink, etc.
10. When you arrive at your destination, do not let the driver walk you to your door.
What to do if you or someone you know is assaulted by a driver of a Lyft, Uber or other Ride Share:
1. Gather all the details, receipts from the app, date, time, driver’s name, location, and write it all down.
2. File a police report, be sure to bring the info you gathered in step 1.
3. File a report with the ride share company. Unfortunately, assaults in ride share vehicles happen so frequently that both Uber and Lyft have standard methods for handling reports that can be found on their websites.
4. Talk to a lawyer who has experience in helping people who have been assaulted in an Uber or Lyft. Even if you are not sure if what happened to you is worthy of talking to a lawyer it doesn’t hurt to ask. Often, these cases can be settled out of court.
5. Talk to a therapist or counselor that has experience with sexual assault. Check your area for a local community service provider that offer free counseling.
Most importantly, know it is never your fault if something happens to you. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing, how much you had to drink, or what you said. You never deserve to be assaulted. The blame and shame always falls on the assaulter and anyone who has a legal responsibility to keep you safe.
All of these are tips I share from my personal experience, I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice.