The Perils Of Being Mistaken For An Uber Driver

Mar 9, 2017
Originally published on March 9, 2017 8:16 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

People of a certain age who live in cities have used Uber and Lyft a lot. For those who don't, these services allow ordinary people with their regular cars to more or less become like taxi drivers. And the services have transformed the way that many people get around. But there are side effects, large and small. For people who use the apps regularly, what happened to Natalie Vaughn (ph) may sound familiar.

NATALIE VAUGHN: I walk out, and I see this car right where I always get my Uber. And it's, like, a Honda (laughter) which I feel like a lot of Ubers are Hondas. And I just opened the door, and I look in and she's actually my neighbor.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It was her neighbor. Yes, she started getting in the wrong car. She is not alone. When your taxi ride looks like any other car - I mean, this is an easy mistake to make.

INSKEEP: It can be a little disconcerting for the drivers. Johnny Cogno (ph), a college senior in New Hampshire, said he's been mistaken for an Uber or Lyft driver about a dozen times, especially during an internship that required him to take people to apartments and wait in the car for them.

JOHNNY COGNO: So it's around 3 or 3:30 in the afternoon, and out of nowhere, two girls get in the back seat of my car. And as soon as they got in, it was pretty obvious that they were intoxicated. They kind of gave me instructions on where they were going and I kind of immediately told them no, no, no, I'm not your Uber.

GREENE: Now, for their part, Uber and Lyft have recommended that riders do things like check the car type and the license plate or confirm the driver's name maybe before getting in. Natalie, who accidentally got her neighbor's car, offers some advice too.

VAUGHN: Now, if they're not making eye contact with me when I walk up to the door, I do knock on the window. And I think for drivers, you should probably keep your doors locked. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.